50 Cent, J. Cole, Travis Scott & More Support Petition Seeking To Ban Rap Lyrics In Criminal Cases
On Tuesday (November 1), The Guardian reported a letter has been circulating titled Art on Trial: Protect Black Art, and it includes signatures from big-name artists such as 50, Cole, Scott, and others such as Post Malone, Alicia Keys, Megan Thee Stallion and more.
Alongside those signatures are the three major record labels, Warner, Sony and Universal, and companies such as Spotify, TikTok and YouTube Music supporting the new petition.
The letter was written by Warner, who also published it on Thursday alongside the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The contents of the letter call for prosecutors to stop using rap as evidence in trials, and for legislators at the state and federal level to limit how much of that work can be used against defendants.
“In courtrooms across America, the trend of prosecutors using artists’ creative expression against them is happening with troubling frequency,” read the letter. “Rappers are storytellers, creating entire worlds populated with complex characters who can play both hero and villain. But more than any other art form, rap lyrics are essentially being used as confessions in an attempt to criminalise Black creativity and artistry.”
The letter continued, referring to the “obvious disregard” of free speech: “The use of lyrics against artists in this way is un-American and simply wrong.”
2 Chainz, John Legend, Killer Mike, Mary J Blige and more signed the letter. In January, JAY-Z, Kelly Rowland and Meek Mill did the same thing when they supported the prevention of rap lyrics being used as evidence in criminal cases.
The latest letter comes after Young Thug, Gunna and several other YSL members were arrested on RICO charges in May. Thug and Gunna had several of their rap lyrics used in an indictment for suspicion of gang involvement and other offenses, as they allegedly constituted “an overt act in furtherance of this conspiracy.”
Both artists have pleaded not guilty and remain in prison ahead of their trials despite multiple attempts by their legal team to have them released on bond.