Young Thug and Gunna were among the 28 YSL artists charged in a massive RICO indictment. The indictment cited lyrics from nine different Young Thug songs. According to Gunna’s legal team, the indictment wrongly portrays his music as being part of a criminal conspiracy. Sadly, that YSL RICO arrest didn’t take place in New York, because those drill rappers now have a new safeguard.
Recently the state Senate of New York passed a bill endorsed by artists like as Jay-Z, Fat Joe, and Meek Mill. It’s also endorsed by academics such as Michelle Alexander. The bill limits when prosecutors can use rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases.
Senate Bill S7527, referred to as “Rap Music on Trial,” must still be approved by the state assembly before becoming law. Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WFP-Manhattan), Senator Jamaal Bailey (D-The Bronx), and Assembly member Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) supported the bill. It was approved by a vote of 38-23.
While the bill protects artists of all genres, advocates claim that it is especially important for rap musicians who use their rhymes to tell stories. Supporters also emphasize the disproportionate influence of rap lyrics on Black men. AllHipHop reported New York State Senator Brad Hoylman expressing his thoughts on the bill.
Art is creative expression, not a blueprint of criminal plans. Yet we’ve seen prosecutors in New York and across the country try to use rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trial, a practice upheld this year by Young Thug’s prosecutors.
It’s time to end the egregous bias against certain genres of music – like rap – and protect the First Amendment rights of all artists. I’m proud the New York senate passed this legislation so that New York leads the way in treating artists fairly, no matter their race or gender.
Many rappers, notably Mac Phipps, who served 20 years in prison, have been harmed by the use of lyrics as evidence. Phipps expressed his views on the bill’s passage. “Criminal cases should be tried on factual evidence not the creative expression of an artist.” The bill must yet be approved by the state assembly.
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