JAY-Z, Meek Mill, Fat Joe and more have lent their support to a proposed New York bill that would ban rap lyrics from being used in court. According to Rolling Stone; Hov, Big Sean, Yo Gotti, Killer Mike, Kelly Rowland, Robin Thicke and others signed a letter on Wednesday (Jan. 19) urging New York lawmakers to pass the “Rap Music on Trial” bill.
The legislation, which was first introduced last November, would limit the admissibility of a defendant’s song lyrics or other “creative expression” as evidence of an alleged crime. Instead, prosecutors would have to prove that musical lyrics are “literal, rather than figurative or fictional” using “clear and convincing evidence.”
“This is an issue that’s important to [JAY-Z] and all the other artists that have come together to try to bring about this change,” Hov’s lawyer Alex Spiro said a statement. “This is a long time coming. Mr. Carter is from New York and if he can lend his name and his weight, that’s what he wants to do.”
“Our lyrics are a creative form of self-expression and entertainment – just like any other genre,” Fat Joe added. “We want our words to be recognized as art rather than being weaponized to get convictions in court. 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.”
New York Senators Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey introduced the “Rap Music on Trial” bill last November, saying, “Art is creative expression, not a blueprint of criminal plans.” In a statement, the two lawmakers mentioned a January 2021 ruling in Maryland where song lyrics in rapper Lawrence Montague’s music were used as evidence by prosecutors to convict him.