California Passes A Rap Lyrics Bill That Will Ban The Use Of Lyrics As Evidence Following YSL RICO Indictment
Looks like the arrests of Atlanta rappers Young Thug and Gunna are influencing politics!
According to reports, the state of California recently voted to approve a bill that will prevent prosecutor’s from using rap lyrics as criminal evidence. The bill, named AB 2799, was reportedly unanimously voted for approval By California’s senate this past Monday (August 22nd), and subsequently approved by the state’s Assembly. Leaving the Governor’s signature on the bill the last step before becoming official law.
Great news! The California Senate has passed AB 2799, the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act. This legislation will put a dent in the discriminatory use of rap lyrics in criminal trials. Thank you @SteveBradford! (and for the shout-out, @SenDaveMin! w/@cekubrin) #RapOnTrial pic.twitter.com/SwZHqLVmuW
— Jack Lerner (@jacklerner) August 19, 2022
Similar to New York’s recently passed bill, Rap Lyrics on trial – supported by A-list musicians such as Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Kelly Rowland, Robin Thicke and Fat Joe – AB 2799 bans lyrics from the courtroom unless
“prosecutors can show that they are directly relevant to the facts of the case and won’t inject racial bias into the proceedings”.
Though other legislations similar to AB 2799 have been presented, it seems government officials are being urged to speed the process of passing such laws, following the May arrests of hip-hop stars Young Thug & Gunna.
The Atlanta natives were detained and hit with a number of racketeering charges earlier this year, with prosecutors using several of their rap lyrics as incriminating evidence. Since, many people of influence, such as Stacy Abrams and music exec Kevin Liles, have spoken up about the dangers of using lyrics in trial. Liles himself even went as far as drafting federal legislation, seeking to ban rap lyrics in courtrooms nationwide on behalf of all black artists, most particularly his good friend Young Thug.
Supporters of the Rap Lyrics On Trial bills, and those like it, believe the use of lyrics as criminal evidence disproportionately targets Black musicians. Many argue that Black artists often tell stories of experiences that may not be their own, and shouldn’t be punished for their style of artistry.
As far as Ab 2799 goes, reports state the bill will create:
“presumption against the use of any creative expression as evidence – meaning not an outright ban, but a hurdle for prosecutors to overcome.”
“Courts will be required to hold that evidence can prove that the expression was created near in time to the crime; bears a level of similarity to the crime; or includes “factual details” about the crime are not otherwise publicly available”…..[As well as] require courts to admit testimony about ‘experimental or social science research’ showing that a particular genre ‘introduces racial bias into the proceedings.’
The report also notes that studies have shown that jurors believe hip-hop lyrics to be more dangerous than those from other genres, even when exact same wordage is used. At this time, there is no word on if the passing of the bill will positively impact Young Thug and Gunna’s case. Both musicians are currently being held without bail, and are set for trial beginning early 2023.
What are your thoughts on California’s recent bill passing? Leave them in the comments section!