New York Senate passes bill to prohibit rappers’ lyrics being used against them in court

© Johnny Nunez

This progression of the Rap Music on Trial law comes in amidst Young Thug and Gunna’s current court case.

Yesterday (17 May) the New York Senate passed the bill by 38-32 votes. Known officially as Senate Bill S7527, the law proposes to limit to use of rappers’ lyrics as evidence against them in court.

The idea for the Rap Music on Trial bill was first introduced last November. Helmed by senators Brad Hoylman and Jamaal Bailey, the push to bring this law into effect has also been supported by the likes of Jay-Z, Meek Mill and Kelly Rowland. Advocating for the bill Hoylman said, “art is creative expression, not a blueprint of criminal plans. Yet we’ve seen prosecutors in New York and across the country try to use rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trial, a practice upheld this year by Young Thug’s prosecutors.”

Bailey added, “rap should not be treated differently from any other art form; yet in courtrooms across the country, artists have been unfairly targeted for simply exercising their right to creative expression. Presuming a defendant’s guilt based solely on musical genre or creative expression is antithetical to our foundational rights and perpetuates the systemic racism that is embedded into the criminal justice system through discriminatory conflations of hip-hop and rap with criminality.”

YSL rappers Young Thug and Gunna were recently arrested on gang-related charges and conspiracy to violate Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. In their ongoing trial, prosecutors have been using Young Thug and Gunna’s lyrics as evidence against them.

Now that the Senate has passed the bill it goes to vote in the New York State Assembly before it can become an official state law.