Jay-Z is heading a list of Hip-Hop and R&B stars who are backing a new law to limit the use of rap lyrics against defendants in criminal trials. According to Rolling Stone, Hov, along with Meek Mill, Big Sean, Fat Joe, Kelly Rowland, Yo Gotti, Killer Mike, Robin Thicke, and others have signed a letter supporting a new bill titled “Rap Music on Trial,” which was recently proposed in New York state.
If passed, the new legislation will amend state law and require prosecutors to provide “clear and convincing evidence” that a defendant’s lyrics are an admission of an actual crime rather than a product of creative expression. The bill, which was first announced last November, passed through the Senate Codes committee on Tuesday (Jan. 19), but still has to receive a full vote on the Senate floor to be officially enacted.
Co-written by Jay-Z’s attorney, Alex Spiro, University of Richmond Professor and Rap on Trial author Erik Nielson, and University of Georgia law professor Andrea Dennis, the letter is fully co-signed by the Brooklyn native and addresses an injustice that is close to the mogul’s heart. “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.”
Rap star Fat Joe, who hails from the Bronx, also spoke on the issue of rap artists having their lyrics used against them in the court of law while urging members of the senate to support the “Rap Music on Trial” bill.
“Our lyrics are a creative form of self-expression and entertainment – just like any other genre,” Joe said. We want our words to be recognized as art rather than being weaponized to get convictions in court. I hope the governor and all the lawmakers in New York take our letter into consideration, protect our artistic rights and make the right decision to pass this bill.”