California introduced a new bill that restricts the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court.
This follows the recent indictments of American rappers Young Thug and Gunna, whose words were directly quoted to them in an ongoing trial.
Young Thug was charged with co-founding a gang as well as possessing stolen weapons and drugs – and in the indictment the lyrics of nine of his songs were mentioned.
One of them included: “I did the stealing, I did the jackin’, now I’m into rapping.”
According to Variety, a veteran music lawyer described it as “unprecedented racism.”
Both rappers were denied bail and will remain in jail until a trial begins in January 2023. They have denied the allegations against them.
The Decriminalization of Artistic Expression Act seeks to protect an artist’s First Amendment rights, which guarantees freedom of expression.
It will prevent the use of a musician’s works in criminal and civil proceedings.
The Black Music Action Coalition described the bill as a “crucial step in the right direction” in not injecting racial bias into legal proceedings.
California is the first state in the United States to introduce such legislation – and from now on lyrics can only be used against artists in court after judicial review.
Rappers Killer Mike, Meek Mill and Tyga were all present when Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill.
Meek Mill tweeted: “I RESPECT YOU. Thank you. I understand the magnitude of the moves you are making. We need help in the system!”
The Recording Academy’s chief executive, Harvey Mason Jr, told Variety, “Today we celebrate an important victory for music creators in the state of California.
“Silencing any genre or form of artistic expression is a violation against all musicians.”