rap

Jay-Z, Killer Mike, Meek Mill Among Stars Backing NY ‘Rap Music on Trial' Law

The bill would keep a rapper's lyrics from being used against them in a criminal trial

Jay-Z
Kevin Kane/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Some of the biggest names in rap have signed a letter backing a proposed New York law that would keep prosecutors from using musical lyrics as evidence against defendants at trial.

Known as the "Rap Music on Trial" bill, the proposal making its way through the state Senate would establish "an assumption of the inadmissibility of evidence of a defendant's creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding."

More than 50 artists and scholars signed on to the letter, including Jay-Z, Killer Mike, Meek Mill, Fat Joe and Kelly Rowland.

"Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally—in the words of one prosecutor, as 'autobiographical journals'—even though the genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry," the letter says.

The bill passed a Senate committee on Tuesday but has not been brought up for a full vote yet or considered in the Assembly.

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