New California Law Restricts Use Of Rap Lyrics As Evidence In Criminal Trials

Jerod Harris/Getty Images

New California Law Restricts Use Of Rap Lyrics As Evidence In Criminal Trials

Jerod Harris/Getty Images

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill limiting the use of rap lyrics in California criminal court cases. Signed on Friday (September 30), the law will require “a court, in a criminal proceeding where a party seeks to admit as evidence a form of creative expression, to consider specified factors when balancing the probative value of that evidence against the substantial danger of undue prejudice.” According to CNN, Meek Mill, Too $hort, E-40, Killer Mike, YG, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tyga were all present in a video call with Governor Newsom when he signed the legislation.

“Artists of all kinds should be able to create without the fear of unfair and prejudicial prosecution,” Governor Newsom said in a statement. “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.”

The signing highlights an ongoing national conversation around whether rap lyrics should be used as evidence in criminal proceedings (as recently seen in the RICO case against Young Thug), which critics call a racist double-standard that infringes upon artists’ First Amendment rights.

Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, Jr. praised the new legislation in a statement on Friday, saying: “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.”

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