The Restoring Artistic Protection (RAP) Act looks to limit the use of lyrics as evidence during a trial, emphasising the musician’s right to “artistic expression”.
The proposed bill could change the face of law in the US, which has been put forward by lawmakers in Congress, Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), per Billboard.
The RAP Act would see the restriction of “creative or artistic expression” as evidence during trial, and asks prosecutors to show “clear and convincing evidence” in its place. Lyrics would have to show “literal meaning” directly to the case.
“Our judicial system disparately criminalises Black and brown lives, including Black and brown creativity,” said Bowman in the proposal.
“We cannot imprison our talented artists for expressing their experiences nor will we let their creativity be suppressed.”
Earlier this year, musicians Young Thug and Gunna were both arrested with a heavy emphasis on song lyrics amidst their court case, impacting the verdict of the trial.
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Both artists were assumed to be part of the “criminal street gang” YSL. Young Thug’s prosecution argued that the verdict was “based on inaccurate, misleading, erroneous information”.
Two similar proposed bills are currently looking to be passed in New York and California. Senate Bill S7527 passed the state senate in May, but will not be voted on by the end of the year at the New York Assembly.
Earlier in the year, rappers rallied together to protest for the ban of lyrics as evidence in court. Artists including Meek Mill, Jay-Z, Big Sean, and Fat Joe banded together to campaign for a new bill titled ‘Rap Music on Trial’.
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter