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Jay-Z, Meek Mill and Others are Pushing to Stop the Use of Rap Lyrics in Criminal Trials

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Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Big Sean and more signed a letter supporting a bill that seeks to prevent rap lyrics from being used in criminal trials.

Jay-Z and other celebrities are supporting a New York bill that aims to curb the usage of rap lyrics in criminal trials.

According to Rolling Stone, Jay-Z and several artists signed a letter asking lawmakers to pass the “Rap Music on Trial” bill. The legislation seeks to bolster free speech protections by making it more difficult for prosecutors to use lyrics as evidence in criminal trials.

The letter to New York lawmakers was signed by Meek Mill, Big Sean, Killer Mike, Kelly Rowland, Yo Gotti and Fat Joe, among others. Jay-Z’s lawyer Alex Spiro co-wrote it with Richmond professor Erik Nielson.

“This reform is urgently needed,” the letter reads. “Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally – in the words of one prosecutor, as ‘autobiographical journals’ – even though the genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry.”

New York state senators Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey introduced the legislation in November 2021. Jay-Z and his fellow celebs hope their endorsements help the bill become a law.

“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 told Rolling Stone. “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.”