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California Emerges As First State In The US To Formally Restrict The Use Of Rap Lyrics As Circumstantial Evidence

Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom

Rap lyrics can no longer be used as circumstantial evidence in California, making it the first state in the United States to do so.

On Friday, Governor Gavin Christopher Newsom signed legislation that will restrict the state’s use of “creative content” against rappers and singers. They are not allowed to use their lyrics as evidence unless a court examines them and finds them to be necessary.

The Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act, or AB 2799, is the first measure of its sort and was created in response to the government’s use of song lyrics to convict rappers Young Thug and Gunna.

The bill’s promoter, Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, said that AB 2799: “will give judges needed guidance for evaluating whether a creative expression is admissible during a criminal trial and provides a framework which will ensure creative expression will not be used to trigger or reinforce stereotypes or activate racial bias.”

Dina Polt, an entertainment lawyer, said: “This legislation sets up important guardrails that will help courts hold prosecutors accountable and prevent them from criminalizing Black and Brown artistic expression. Thank you, Gov. Newsom, for setting the standard. We hope Congress will pass similar legislation, as this is a nationwide problem.”

Introduction of Rap Lyrics Bill To Congress

In July, lawmakers proposed a similar bill to Congress. The “Restoring Artistic Protection Act,” sometimes referred to as the RAP Act, would restrict the use of artistic or creative evidence against the person who developed it, according to Billboard.

For years, members of the music industry have lobbied for legislation of this nature. Of course, it’s uncertain whether the new federal plan has any real prospect of approval given how divided Congress is right now. Artists like #MeekMill, who had his music cited during a prior run-in with the authorities, have praised today’s announcement.

During Young Thug’s bond hearing last month, Chairman and CEO of 300 Elektra Entertainment Kevin Liles criticized the prosecutors for trying to use the rapper’s lyrics against him, saying: This racially targeted practice punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph. Authorities are criminalizing black creativity and artistry, and this bill will help end that. We must protect Black art.

Judge Decides The lyrics of NBA YoungBoy cannot be used against him.

In a recent federal guns case, a court barred prosecutors from using NBA YoungBoy‘s songs against him.

NBA YoungBoy‘s trial for gun possession began on Tuesday (July 12). In a ruling in court today, Judge R. Gary Klausner of the Central District of California shut down the prosecution’s attempts to use the Baton Rouge, La. rhymer’s lyrics as evidence. XXL Magazine has confirmed the ruling.

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