Lawmakers Introduce RAP Act To Ban Rappers' Lyrics From Being Used In Court
Prosecutors have cited an artist's lyrics as evidence against them in over 500 criminal cases in the last two years.
by Kui Mwai
July 28, 2022 at 2:59 pm
Congressmen Hank Johnson (GA-04) and Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) are championing an act to help protect artists’ First Amendment rights.
The legislation, titled the Restoring Artistic Protection Act (RAP Act), intends to address the persecution of rappers’ by way of their lyrics. According to a press release about the act, over the last two years, prosecutors have cited an artist’s lyrics as evidence against them in over 500 criminal cases.
The press release also mentions that the act “adds a presumption to the Federal Rules of Evidence that would limit the admissibility of evidence of an artist’s creative or artistic expression against that artist in court.”
In an interview with USA Today, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said that lawmakers and prosecutors using rap lyrics as a means to go after rappers is “inequitable,” “unjust” and “unfair.” He also described the act as a “crucial step forward in the ongoing battle to stop the weaponization of creative expression as a prosecution tactic.”
“The bias against rap music has been present in our judicial system for far too long, and it’s time we put an end to this unconstitutional practice. We extend our gratitude to Representatives Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) for their leadership on this issue, and we will continue to work closely with them to advance the protections in this bill that ensure all artists can create freely without fear of their work being criminalized,” Mason added.
Other music industry executive have applauded Johnson and Bowman’s efforts.
Dina LaPolt, co-founder and board member of Songwriters of N. America (SONA), shared that the organization “endorses the RAP Act” and recognizes it as “our chance at correcting the system and preserving the right to free speech and creative expression for all Americans.”
“Hip-Hop as a form of art is being critically endangered by this plague taking over our criminal justice system. Rap is undeniably the heart of not just popular music but American culture and deserves the same First Amendment protection as all other creative expression,” Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, co-chair of the Black Music Action Coalition, said.
The RAP Act is also supported by several organizations, entities and associations, including the Recording Academy, Recording Industry Association of America, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, Warner Records, Atlantic Records, Warner Music Nashville, Artists Rights Alliance, SAG-AFTRA, Black Music Action Coalition, Music Artists Coalition, Song Writers of North America, 300 Elektra Entertainment, Warner Chappell Music, Warner Music Group and Warner Music Latina.