California has introduced a new bill that restricts the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court.
It follows the recent indictments of US rappers Young Thug and Gunna, whose lyrics have been quoted directly by them in an ongoing legal process.
Young Thug was accused of co-founding a gang and possessing stolen weapons and drugs – and the indictment mentions the lyrics of nine of his songs.
One of them included: “I did the theft, I did the jackin ‘, now I’m completely rappin.'”
According to Variety, a veteran music advocate described this as “unprecedented racism”.
Both rappers have been denied the link and will remain in prison until the trial begins in January 2023. They have denied the charges against them.
The law on decriminalization of artistic expression aims to protect an artist’s First Amendment rights, which guarantee free speech.
The use of the works of a musician will intervene during criminal and civil proceedings.
The Black Music Action Coalition described the bill as a “crucial step in the right direction” to avoid injecting racial prejudice into legal proceedings.
California is the first US state to introduce such legislation – and from now on, lyrics can only be used against artists in court after a judicial review.
Killer rappers Mike, Meek Mill, and Tyga were all in attendance when Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill.
Meek Mill tweeted: “I RESPECT YOU. Thanks. I understand the scale of the moves you make. We need help in the system!”
Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr told Variety, “Today we celebrate an important victory for music makers in the state of California.
“Silencing any genre or form of artistic expression is a violation against all musicians.”