Mac the Camouflage Assassin. Boosie Badazz. Drakeo the Ruler. Mayhem Mal. Given that the early 1990s, law enforcement and prosecutors have utilised lyrics to construct and try hundreds of felony situations against rap artists. The practice carries on despite analysis and appeals courts locating that rap tunes can be prejudicial when introduced just before a choose or jury without the need of context.
“I’m only here to protect people’s ideal to a fair trial,” states Erik Nielson, co-writer of the guide Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in The usa. “I am persuaded that working with rap as proof does not allow for for that in most, if not all, situations.”
Nielson and co-writer Andrea L. Dennis compiled the first database of nearly 500 occasions wherever rap music or lyrics were employed in the program of a criminal circumstance. The figures will not lie: This is only taking place in hip-hop. And this use of Black art towards the creator is element of a lengthy record of racism in the criminal justice technique.
“A long time back, it was not unheard of for racist rhetoric to be employed in the courtroom — that particular person defendants may well be named the n-word or may be referred to as apes or monkeys or other sort of sorts of scary beasts,” Dennis claims. “We see the use of rap lyrics as prison evidence is simply a additional present day manifestation of that now abolished tactic.”
From the U.S. government’s policing of jazz and blues to rap lyrics on trial, NPR Music’s Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden trace Black music’s criminalized background and lay out the racist implications behind prosecuting hip-hop.