New law restricts the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court

California has passed a bill limiting the use of rap lyrics in criminal trials

As of Friday September 30, the law in California will now require the court to think twice about accepting forms of creative expression as evidence. Specifically, it will need to “consider specified factors when balancing the probative value of that evidence against the substantial danger of undue prejudice”. This means that it will be harder for rap lyrics that reference violence or criminal activity to be submitted as evidence.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the new bill whilst on a call with many leading figures in US rap, including Meek Mill, Too $hort, E-40, Killer Mike, YG, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tyga.

“I RESPECT YOU,” wrote Meek Mill on Twitter after the signing. “Thank you. I understand the magnitude of the moves you make. We need help in the system!”

Young Thug - Just How It Is [Official Video]

This move follows the indictment of rapper Young Thug, who had his lyrics quoted to him in court after he was accused of possessing stolen weapons and drugs and co-founding a criminal gang. Among the lyrics mentioned was the line: “I done did the robbin’, I done did the jackin’, now I’m full rappin’” from his track ‘Just How It Is’.

Speaking on the new bill, Governor Newsom said: “Artists of all kinds should be able to create without the fear of unfair and prejudicial prosecution. California’s culture and entertainment industry set trends around the world and it’s fitting that our state is taking a nation-leading role to protect creative expression and ensure that artists are not criminalized under biased policies.”

A statement from Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, Jr. read: “Today we celebrate an important victory for music creators in the state of California. Silencing any genre or form of artistic expression is a violation against all music people. The history that’s been made in California today will help pave the way forward in the fight to protect creative freedom nationwide.”