Rap Lyrics Could Be Banned As Evidence In Newly Introduced Federal Bill

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The RAP (Restoring Artistic Protection) Bill aims to protect artists from having their lyrics used against them in court.

Two Democrats introduced a new bill to Congress that would protect artists from having their lyrics used against them in a court of law. The RAP (Restoring Artistic Protection) bill was brought to Congress by Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.). If passed, this would be the first legislation on a federal level that would protect lyrics from being presented as evidence.

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“Rap, Hip Hop and every lyrical musical piece is a beautiful form of art and expression that must be protected,” Rep. Bowman said in a statement announcing the bill. “Our judicial system disparately criminalizes Black and brown lives, including Black and brown creativity.”

Similar to New York’s Rap Music On Trial bill that was introduced earlier this year, the RAP Act aims to  “limit the admissibility of evidence of a defendant’s creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding, and for other purposes.”

“Evidence shows when juries believe lyrics to be rap lyrics, there’s a tendency to presume it’s a confession, whereas lyrics for other genres of music are understood to be art, not factual reporting. This act would ensure that our evidentiary standards protect the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. We cannot imprison our talented artists for expressing their experiences nor will we let their creativity be suppressed,” Bowman added.

It’s a timely issue following the recent RICO indictment against Young Thug, Gunna and YSL, who’ve been considered a dangerous street organization rather than a record label. The 56-count indictment heavily relied on using lyrics from Young Thug and Gunna to nail them for gang-related crimes. Kevin Liles even launched a petition called Rap Music On Trial to “protect Black art” after appearing in court for Thug.