READ IN: Español

I wish this news was about Spain, but it is not. The New York State Senate has passed a bill limiting song lyrics and other forms of “creative expression” as evidence in court. 

Senate Bill S7527, also known as “Rap Music on Trial”, will not ban song lyrics from being used as evidence entirely, but the lyrics will now have to be shown to be “literal, rather than figurative or fictional”. Supported by artists such as Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Killer Mike, Fat Joe and more, the bill will be the first of its kind in the nation.

In January, Hov’s attorney Alex Spiro sent a letter to state lawmakers urging passage of the bill. “This is an issue that is important to (Jay-Z) and all the other artists who have come together to try to get this change,” Spiro said. “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.”

This sentiment is shared by many other artists who have also suffered for having compromised rap lyrics. Mac Phipps, a No Limit rapper who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2001 after prosecutors heavily quoted his lyrics, shared a statement Tuesday expressing his opinion on the bill’s passage.

“Criminal cases should be judged on factual evidence, not an artist’s creative expression, but unfortunately hip hop has been held to a very different standard in the criminal justice system over the past three decades,” Phipps said. “The passage of the New York bill gives me hope that situations like the one I faced will not happen to other artists in the future.” 

In Spain there are two highly publicised convictions against rappers for the lyrics of their songs. The first is Pablo Hasel who was not convicted for glorification of terrorism: another case is that of Valtonyc for naming some presidents or the King in his lyrics. Freedom of expression to what extent?