RAP Act Reintroduced To Congress To Ban Lyrics As Evidence In Court

The legislation seeks to protect the creative expression of artists, including rappers.

A bill first introduced last July, which seeks to protect artists from the wrongful use of their lyrics against them in criminal and civil court proceedings, has been re-introduced to Congress by two Democratic congressmen.

According to a press release, on Thursday (April 27), the Restoring Artistic Protection Act (RAP Act) was reintroduced by Democratic congressmen Hank Johnson and Jamaal Bowman at a press conference. The legislators were joined by representatives of the Black Music Coalition (BMAC), the Recording Academy, the Black Music Collective, SAG-AFTRA, and other First Amendment advocates in making the demand for free speech rights for artists, including rappers.

The piece of legislation seeks to add a presumption to the Federal Rules of Evidence that would limit the admissibility of evidence of an artist’s creative or artistic expression to be used against them in court.

Lil Boosie's Lyrics to Be Used in Murder Trial

Lil' Boosie in a Letter to Fans From Prison  - “Last month I was sentence to 8 years with credit for time served so i will have to do 19 months on that sentence. I go to trial for this murder charge in April so please keep me in your prayers.” (Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Lil Boosie's Lyrics to Be Used in Murder Trial

“The Black Music Action Coalition supports and applaud Congressmen Hank Johnson and Jamal Bowman for this forward movement to right the systemic wrong of utilizing rap lyrics as the sole evidence of crimes through the proposed RAP Act,” said Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, Co-Founder/Chair of BMAC. “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.”

There is a long-established precedent of using artist’s lyrics against them in court. Perhaps most recent and famously is currently happening in the Young Thug and Young Slime Life (YSL) RICO trial. Prosecutors have introduced the Atlanta rapper’s song lyrics in an attempt to establish YSL as a criminal enterprise.

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