This is Nuts: Prosecutors are Using Rap Lyrics to Build Cases

The criminal justice system is a very weird ecosystem, especially in the United States.  Slate looks at how prosecutors are using rap lyrics as evidence to throw more people in jail.

[A] recent New York Times article sheds light on a growing and deeply disturbing practice of using lyrics by aspiring rappers as evidence for the prosecution in criminal trials. The article focuses primarily on charges facing Antwain Steward of Virginia, who is currently standing trial for two counts of murder largely on the basis of lyrics that allegedly refer to a 2007 homicide. (Prior to his arrest, Steward had achieved regional success performing under the handle Twain Gotti.) The Times alludes to nearly 40 other instances of prosecutors introducing lyrics as evidence against defendants, and Slate’s own Justin Peters has covered the phenomenon extensively. “Just because you put your confession to music doesn’t give you a free pass,” declares a former prosecutor, a statement that might belong in a negative review of a Drake album but absolutely nowhere else.

Keep reading. It’s weird.  And wrong.  Imagine if anyone tried to do this with rock lyrics.  (Wait! They have! Remember the Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne suicide trials?)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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