California Lawmakers Approve Bill Regarding Rap Lyrics in Criminal Cases

A new bill in California has been approved by the state Senate and Assembly regarding the use of rap lyrics in criminal cases. The bill, living under the technical name of AB 2799, would restrict prosecutors’ usage of rap lyrics in criminal cases. The bill has been sent to California Governor Gavin Newsom for final approval but has not yet been signed into law.

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The practice of presenting rap lyrics as evidence against the artist who created them has frequently been condemned by critics of both music and law. These critics have argued that presenting rap lyrics can introduce racial biases as well as discredit the art of the genre. Further, the bill itself states that judges must consider whether introducing rap lyrics would “inject racial bias into the proceedings.”

With the passing of this bill, it would become significantly more difficult to present rap lyrics as evidence, but not entirely impossible. (It would not be a ban.)

In regard to the art of rap and hip-hop itself, critics continue to note that the current practice diminishes the creative expression of the music. “The tactic denies the artistic heritage, nature, and value of rap music, and strips the work and authors of all creative effort, as well as internal and external context that should inform one’s understanding of the music,” said Andrea Dennis, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, in an interview with Billboard.

Recently, this bill has become more relevant as the rappers Young Thug and Gunna were indicted on criminal charges after their rap lyrics were used as evidence against them.

Lawmakers in New York were working on a similar bill. Earlier this year, artists Jay-Z and Meek Mill expressed their support of this bill, stating that this current practice gives prosecutors a “dangerous advantage in the courtroom” especially in situations where “evidence is lacking.” The New York bill has stalled.

This is a developing story.

Do you agree with the new bill? Let us know by commenting below.

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