Yesterday (May 17), the New York State Senate approved Senate Bill S7527 which would limit how song lyrics can be used in court cases.
If the bill is approved by the State Assembly, then prosecutors would not be able to fully use “creative expression” to bring charges in a case. The lyrics in question would have to be proven “literal, rather than figurative or fictional” before they could be presented during a trial.
Artists like JAY-Z, Meek Mill, Fat Joe, Killer Mike and others have been very vocal about getting this measure approved. Senator Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey have shown their support by sponsoring the bill.
Before the bill can become a law, the New York State Assembly must pass it. Assembly Member Catalina Cruz has backed a companion bill that is waiting to be voted on. That bill, A08681, “establishes an assumption of the inadmissibility of evidence of a defendant’s creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding.”
Senate Bill S7527 has become known as the “Rap Music on Trial” bill.
In January, JAY-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro showed his support for the bill with a letter to state lawmakers that read, “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.” It continued, “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.”
In 2001, No Limit rapper Mac Phipps received a manslaughter conviction when prosecutors used his lyrics in court. Yesterday (May 16), Phipps released a statement about the Rap Music on Trial bill.
“Criminal cases should be tried on factual evidence not the creative expression of an artist, but unfortunately hip hop has been held to a very different standard in the criminal justice system within the last three decades,” Phipps said. “The passage of the New York bill gives me hope that situations like the one that I faced will be prevented from happening to other artists in the future.”