New York Senate approves Jay-Z's new bill to Prevent Lyrics From Being Used in Court Against Rappers
Along with Fat Joe, Big Sean, Yo Gotti, Kelly Rowland, Killer Mike, Robin Thicke, and others, urge New York lawmakers to pass the proposed bill “Rap Music on Trial” back in January. amid the RICO case
New York State Senate Brad Hoylman Passes Bill ‘Rap Music on Trial’ Bill Limiting Use of Song Lyrics as Evidence in Court
The legislation would limit the use of “creative expression” as evidence is “literal, rather than figurative or fictional.” If passed by the State Assembly prosecutors would need to show “clear and convincing evidence”
The legislation first unveiled last November, New York’s State Senate successfully passed a bill on Tuesday, May 17, that would put new measures on the use of song lyrics as evidence in criminal cases, Pitchfork reports. Senate Bill S7527 would not be an outright ban on prosecutors from using lyrics or other forms of “creative expression” at trial but would require them to prove that the words are “literal, rather than figurative or fictional” before presenting them to a jury.
Senator Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey sponsored the bill, which has previously been backed by rappers including Jay-Z, Killer Mike, and Meek Mill. The next stage for organizers is to pass the law at New York State Assembly; a companion bill sponsored by Assembly Member Catalina Cruz is pending before a committee and awaiting a vote.
In January, Hov’s lawyer Alex Spiro sent a letter to state lawmakers urging the bill to be passed.
“This is an issue that’s important to (Jay-Z) and all the other artists that have come together to try to bring about this change,” Spiro said. “This is a long time coming. Mr. Carter is from New York, and if he can lend his name and his weight, that’s what he wants to do.”
This sentiment is shared by many other artists who have suffered from having their rap lyrics weaponized as well. Mac Phipps, a No Limit rapper who was convicted of manslaughter in 2001 after prosecutors heavily cited his lyrics, shared a statement Tuesday giving his thoughts about the bill being passed.
“Criminal cases should be tried on factual evidence not the creative expression of an artist, but unfortunately hip hop has been held to a very different standard in the criminal justice system within the last three decades,” Phipps said. “The passage of the New York bill gives me hope that situations like the one that I faced will be prevented from happening to other artists in the future.”
in recent weeks being Young Thug and Gunna's RICO charges, the passing of Bill S7527 comes amid the RICO case against several other members of YSL in which prosecutors relied heavily on song lyrics for their indictment.