In response to a growing concern among recording artists, particularly rappers, Congress has introduced a bill that would bar the use of lyrics as evidence in court proceedings.
The bill was brought to the Congress floor by House of Reps Hank Johnson (GA-04) and Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) who titled the bill Restoring Artistic Protection Act (RAP Act) which seeks to limit the admissibility of evidence of a defendant’s creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding, and for other purposes. Rep. Bowman said:
“Rap, Hip Hop and every lyrical musical piece is a beautiful form of art and expression that must be protected. Our judicial system disparately criminalizes Black and brown lives, including Black and brown creativity. Evidence shows when juries believe lyrics to be rap lyrics, there’s a tendency to presume it’s a confession, whereas lyrics for other genres of music are understood to be art, not factual reporting. This act would ensure that our evidentiary standards protect the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. We cannot imprison our talented artists for expressing their experiences nor will we let their creativity be suppressed.”