Using song lyrics against rappers on trial may soon become a thing of the past in New York, as the birthplace of rap music and hip-hop culture could potentially be the first state to protect the First Amendment rights of rappers who often face having their creative licenses disregarded in courtrooms. That’s all if Senate Bill S7527, also known as “Rap Music on Trial,” introduced by Senators Brad Hoylman (D/WFP-Manhattan) and Jamaal Bailey (D-The Bronx), successfully becomes law. 

Supported by some of the biggest names in music and social justice, like JAY-Z, Big Sean, Tinashe, Yo Gotti, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Alexander, among others, the legislation seeks to prohibit prosecutors from utilizing one’s art as evidence in criminal proceedings without “clear and convincing proof” of the art’s truthful and literal correlation to the facts of the case.   

“In many cases, even the mere association with certain genres, like hip-hop and rap, leads to heightened scrutiny in the courtroom and is used to presume guilt, immorality and propensity for criminal activity,” Bailey said in a press release. “This bill will finally put an end to this grossly discriminatory practice by ensuring that there is a valid nexus between the speech sought to be admitted into evidence and the crime alleged.”