Bill limiting use of lyrics as court evidence nationally brought to Congress

        Calls for a national bill addressing the issue of rap on trial have intensified in the past three months, following the May indictment of 28 alleged affiliates of Atlanta’s YSL crew — a group of individuals associated with Young Thug, the founder of Young Stoner Life Records, including Gunna and several other signees. Prosecutors claim that Young Slime Life, a separate (but overlapping) entity to the label, is a “criminal street gang,” and have charged the defendants with conspiracy to violate Georgia’s Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, as well as various combinations of 55 other felony offenses.

        On May 19, a day after the Rap Music On Trial bill’s approval by New York’s State Senate, formerly incarcerated Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda advocated for the adoption of a similar bill nationwide in an interview with TMZ. And last month, Atlantic Records and 300 Entertainment executives Julie Greenwald and Kevin Liles circulated a “Petition to Protect Black Art” with the same goal in mind.

        “Today, too many artists, almost always hip-hop artists, face allegations of wrongdoing which rely heavily on their lyrics as evidence,” Liles is quoted as saying in the press release from Johnson’s office. “Beyond the disregard for free speech protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted practice punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph. Black creativity and artistry are being criminalized, and this bill will help end that. We must protect Black art.”
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