Jay-Z and other rappers are joining in to help stop lawmakers.
Following in the footsteps of other music business heavyweights, Jay-Z has lent his support to a proposed New York state bill that would prohibit prosecutors from using rap lyrics as putative blueprints for alleged crimes, according to Rolling Stone, which first reported the news.
Among the celebrities who have signed a new letter urging state lawmakers — and ultimately Gov. Kathy Hochul — to pass the recently proposed bill titled “Rap Music on Trial” (S.7527/A.8681) is the rap superstar, born Shawn Carter. Meek Mill, Big Sean, Fat Joe, Kelly Rowland, Yo Gotti, Killer Mike, Robin Thicke, and others have signed the letter.
In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the Senate Codes Committee passed the proposal, paving the way for a full vote on the Senate floor. The legislation, which was initially introduced in November, will now go on to the Senate floor.
Spiro collaborated on the letter with Erik Nielson, a University of Richmond professor who co-authored the book “Rap on Trial” with University of Georgia law professor Andrea Dennis, as well as with Spiro. The attorney said that he and Hova — who previously battled against the lack of racial diversity on arbitration panels, which resulted in national changes — believe the proposed legislation to be a bellwether that might be adopted by other states in the future.
When you change the legislation in this area, you not only benefit the cases that are affected, but you also send a signal to the rest of the world that progress is on its way. “We anticipate that it will be followed in a number of locations,” Spiro added.
It is proposed that state law be amended to restrict the inclusion of a defendant’s music or other “artistic expression” as evidence before a jury. The proposal is sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), Senator Jamaal Bailey (D-The Bronx), and Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (D-Queens).
According to the proposed law, prosecutors would be required to demonstrate “clear and persuasive proof” that a defendant’s artistic expression, such as a rap song, is “literal, rather than metaphorical or fictitious,” in order to avoid a conviction.