Drake, Mary J Blige, More Unite to Restrict Use of Rap Lyrics in Court

Artists, industry leaders, and legal experts have joined in a call to “Protect Black Art,” publishing an open letter in the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution urging lawmakers across America to limit how creative expression can be used. against defendants. on trial.

In particular, he calls for an end to the racially discriminatory practice of treating rap lyrics as confessions. (See the full letter below.)

Artists and songwriters who have signed the letter include 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, 50 Cent, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Alicia Keys, Amy Allen, Baby Tate, Benson Boone, Big Sean, Black Eyed Peas, Breland , Brothers Osborne, Bryce Vine , Busta Rhymes, Camila Cabello, Christina Aguilera, Coldplay, Cordae, D-Nice, Dave East, DJ Drama, DJ Khaled, Drake, Erica Banks, Fat Joe, Fredo Bang, Future, Giveon, grandson, Highly Doubtful, Hit-Boy , Ice-T, IDK, Isaiah Rashad, J. Cole, Jack Harlow, Jadakiss, Jay Electronica, Jeezy, Joey Bada$$, John Legend, KayCyy, Killer Mike, Lainey Wilson, Lil Baby, Lil Jairmy, Lil Tjay, Lil Uzi Vert, Mac Phipps, Mary J. Blige, Meek Mill, Megan Thee Stallion, Michelle Branch, Miguel, Moneybagg Yo, Morgan Wallen, NAV, Nessa Barrett, NLE Choppa, Normani, Omar Apollo, Pheelz, Polo G, Post Malone, Quavo, Questlove, Regina Spektor, Robin Thicke, Roddy Ricch, Shordie Shordie, Shy Carter, TI, Takeoff, Tanna Leone, Teddy Swims, Tee Grizzley, Theo Croker, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, WILL, YBN Nahmir, and Yo Gotti.

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The long list of signatories includes companies such as Warner Music Group, Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, BMG, Kobalt, and Atlanta-based LVRN and Quality Control, AEG Presents, Audiomack, Deezer, Live Nation Entertainment, SiriusXM, SoundCloud, Spotify, TIDAL, TikTok, and YouTube Music; organizations such as American Independent Music Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Artists’ Rights Alliance, Black Music Action Coalition, Black Women’s Roundtable, BLD PWR, Color of Change, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, NYU Center on Race, Inequality, and Law, People For the American Way, PEN America, Rap Coalition, the Recording Academy, Recording Industry Association of America, Red Hot, Sankofa.org, Songs from North America, Sony Music Group Global Social Justice Fund, Warner Music Group / Foundation Social Justice Fund The Blavatnik Family, Woke Vote, and Universal Music Group’s Task Force for Meaningful Change; legal and humanities scholars from elite universities including Columbia, Harvard, Howard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale.

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Drafted and published by Warner Music Group, the letter reads in part:

“Beyond the blatant disregard for free speech and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted practice punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family , struggle, survival and victory.”

Experts have found more than 500 rap-related cases as evidence in public records, and they note that this number is only the tip of the iceberg. For the most part, this does not account for indictment cases, juvenile cases, or cases that end in a plea bargain, and plea deals are an overwhelming majority of outcomes in criminal prosecutions. Meanwhile, investigators have found only four cases since the 1950s of non-rap lyrics being presented as evidence – three of those cases were thrown out, and the fourth was overturned after conviction

Lawmakers at the state and federal level are already taking action. Governor Newsom recently signed a measure into law in California, and bills are currently being considered in New York and New Jersey, as well as the RAP (Restoration of Artistic Protection) Act introduced by Representative Hank Johnson and Representative Jamaal Bowman in the United States Congress.

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The #ProtectBlackArt movement began earlier this year when Liles and Greenwald launched a change.org petition, which today has nearly 65,000 signatures.

Kevin Liles, Chairman and CEO of 300 Elektra Entertainment WMG said: “For decades, a racial double standard has been used against Black and Brown hip-hop artists by turning their creative visions against them in courts of law. Enough is enough. If prosecutors are not willing to end this practice on their own, then laws need to be passed that end this blatant abuse. On behalf of WMG, I would like to thank the extraordinary group of people across our industry and the legal community who are joining us in this critical fight.”

Julie Greenwald, Chairman and CEO of WMG Atlantic Music Group, said: “Throughout history, artists have created characters and crafted narratives that reflect the culture around them. That freedom of expression is essential to the creative process and the role of art in society. The harsh reality is that Black artistic creativity is being threatened at an unprecedented level, and we must make every effort to stop this unethical, discriminatory method of prosecution.”


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