New York’s state Senate passed a bill that would limit how song lyrics can be used as evidence court, Pitchfork reports.
Senate Bill S7527, also known as “Rap Music on Trial,” will not ban song lyrics from being used as evidence altogether, but according to the outlet, the lyrics will now have to be proved to be “literal, rather than figurative or fictional.” Supported by artists like Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Killer Mike, Fat Joe, and more, the bill will be the first of its kind in the nation.
In January, Hov’s lawyer Alex Spiro sent a letter to state lawmakers urging the bill to be passed.
“This is an issue that’s important to (Jay-Z) and all the other artists that have come together to try to bring about this change,” Spiro said. “This is a long time coming. Mr. Carter is from New York, and if he can lend his name and his weight, that’s what he wants to do.”
This sentiment is shared by many other artists who have suffered from having their rap lyrics weaponized as well. Mac Phipps, a No Limit rapper who was convicted of manslaughter in 2001 after prosecutors heavily cited his lyrics, shared a statement Tuesday giving his thoughts about the bill being passed.
“Criminal cases should be tried on factual evidence not the creative expression of an artist, but unfortunately hip hop has been held to a very different standard in the criminal justice system within the last three decades,” Phipps said. “The passage of the New York bill gives me hope that situations like the one that I faced will be prevented from happening to other artists in the future.”
Before the bill can be enacted into law, it must still pass the state assembly.
The passing of Bill S7527 comes amid the RICO case against Young Thug, Gunna, and several other members of YSL in which prosecutors relied heavily on song lyrics for their indictment.