*Jay-Z and Meek Mill are urging lawmakers to stop rap lyrics from being used in court.
As reported by People, both rappers support a proposed New York State law that would block lyrics from being used during trials.
The rappers have joined fellow artists Fat Joe, Big Sean, Kelly Rowland and Robin Thicke in calling on lawmakers to sign the “Rap Music on Trial” bill (S.7527/A.8681), which was first proposed in November and passed through the New York Senate Codes committee on Tuesday, according to Rolling Stone.
A letter from signed by the musicians states, “Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally — in the words of one prosecutor, as ‘autobiographical journals’ — even though the genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry.”
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) January 14, 2022
“This tactic effectively denies rap music the status of art and, in the process, gives prosecutors a dangerous advantage in the courtroom,” the letter continues. “By presenting rap lyrics as rhymed confessions of illegal behavior, they are often able to obtain convictions even when other evidence is lacking.”
Per the report, under the “Rap Music on Trial” bill, prosecutors would have to provide “clear and convincing” evidence that a defendant’s creative work is “literal, rather than figurative or fictional.”
“Our lyrics are a creative form of self-expression and entertainment — just like any other genre. We want our words to be recognized as art rather than being weaponized to get convictions in court,” Fat Joe told Rolling Stone on Tuesday.
“I hope the governor and all the lawmakers in New York take our letter into consideration, protect our artistic rights and make the right decision to pass this bill,” he added.
The legislation was reportedly introduced by Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), Senator Jamaal Bailey (D-The Bronx), and Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (D-Queens). Bailey said the bill would require prosecutors to show a “strong, factual nexus between the art and the facts of the case.”
“Presuming a defendant’s guilt based solely on musical genre or creative expression is antithetical to our foundational rights and perpetuates the systemic racism that is embedded into the criminal justice system through discriminatory conflations of hip-hop and rap with criminality,” the Senator added Tuesday.