After much discussion, a bill that moves to block rap lyrics from being used as evidence in court has been introduced to Congress. Yesterday (July 27), the Restoring Artistic Protection Act (RAP Act) was brought before the U.S. House of Representatives. The motion would impact the Federal Rules of Evidence. Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) shared the news in a tweet.
“Today @RepBowman & I introduced [the] RAP Act to protect artists from the wrongful use of their lyrics against them in criminal [and] civil proceedings. [Thank you] for [your] support!” he wrote yesterday. Johnson was referring to Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) who worked with him to make the proposal a reality. He also thanked Kevin Liles and the Recording Academy. According to the Georgia politician, the bill would “limit the admissibility of evidence of a defendant’s creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding, and for other purposes.”
Earlier this year, JAY-Z and Meek Mill made headlines for asking New York lawmakers to pass a similar bill, called “Rap Music on Trial.” Industry heavyweights like Big Sean, Kelly Rowland, Fat Joe and more offered their celebrity status to help. At the time, JAY-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro said, “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. 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.”
The issue recently gained more attention when prosecutors used Young Thug’s lyrics from his 2021 hit “Ski,” and other popular songs, against him in court during his RICO case. According to Variety, a press release for the RAP Act mentioned the 2021 case of Bey-Cousin v. Powell. It read, “Freddy Mercury did not confess to having ‘just killed a man’ by putting ‘a gun against his head’ and pulling the trigger. Bob Marley did not confess to having shot a sheriff. And Johnny Cash did not confess to shooting ‘a man in Reno, just to watch him die.’”
Congressman Bowman added, “Rap, hip hop and every lyrical musical piece is a beautiful form of art and expression that must be protected.”
Today @RepBowman & I introduced RAP Act to protect artists from the wrongful use of their lyrics against them in criminal & civil proceedings. TY for support! @wearesonaLA @RecordingAcad @KevinLiles1 @MusicArtistsCo @sagaftra @bma_coalition @Prophet5050 https://t.co/fUHSKgDSE4 pic.twitter.com/vk9kykkum4
— Rep. Hank Johnson (@RepHankJohnson) July 27, 2022