New York State Senate Passes Bill to Limit Use of Song Lyrics as Evidence

The New York State Senate passed a bill that will limit prosecutors from using song lyrics as evidence in criminal cases, as first reported by Pitchfork. The bill was introduced this past November by Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator Jamaal Bailey and assembly member Catalina, and it is recognized as Senate Bill S7527 . It is designed to “limit the admissibility of evidence of a defendant’s creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding,” according to the New York State Senate’s official website.

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This bill has long been a point of contention from many within hip hop culture. Before coming to fruition, it was touted by the likes of Jay – Z, Meek Mill and Killer Mike.

In a letter signed by the aforementioned artists, Jay – Z’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, had this to say about the new legislation:

“Rather than acknowledge rap music as a form of artistic expression, police and prosecutors argue that the lyrics should be interpreted literally—in the words of one prosecutor, as ‘autobiographical journals. The genre is rooted in a long tradition of storytelling that privileges figurative language, is steeped in hyperbole, and employs all of the same poetic devices we find in more traditional works of poetry.”

This new legislation comes as Atlanta-bred rappers Young Thug, Gunna and other YSL affiliates were arrested and are facing charges under Georgia’s RICO act. It was reported that their lyrics were used by authorities as part of their criminal investigation.

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Rapper’s lyrics have long been a point of contention in the courtroom. The likes of Boosie Badazz, YNW Melly, Mac Phipps, Tay-K have all had their words play a part in their criminal proceedings. In a rather famous instance, Snoop Dogg’s “Murder Was The Case” was played in the courtroom while he faced trial for murder in 1993. Now, rapper’s in the state of New York will have an extra creative freedom knowing their song lyrics won’t be used against them aimlessly.

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