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California governor signs bill to restrict use of rap lyrics in court

It is the first legislation to ensure that such content cannot be used against artists in court without judicial review.

01 October 2022

Rappers Killer Mike, Meek Mill and Tyga were all present for the signing of a new bill that restricts the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court in California.

The Decriminalising Artistic Expression Act was created to protect the first amendment rights of artists and stop the use of an artist’s lyrics or creative expressions as evidence during criminal and civil proceedings.

California is the first state to pass legislation to ensure that such content cannot be used against artists in court without judicial review.

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law on Friday during a virtual conference which also included artists Too $hort, Ty Dolla $ign, YG, and E-40, as well as the chief executive of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr.

The signing comes following the recent indictments of US rappers Young Thug and Gunna, whose lyrics have been directly quoted at them in an ongoing legal trial.

The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) called the bill a “crucial step in the right direction” of not injecting racial bias into court proceedings.

Several of the artists present for the signing retweeted the news, with Philadelphia’s Meek Mill praising the “magnitude” of the bill.

“The second time I witnessed the Governor of California sign bills that help our people … probation caps & bans on using rap lyrics in court,” the rapper, who is also the former partner of Nicki Minaj, wrote on Twitter.

“I RESPECT YOU. Thank you. I understand the magnitude of the moves you make. We need help in the system!”

Harvey Mason Jr said that history had been made in California that would help “pave the way forward” in protecting creative freedom in the US.

“Today we celebrate an important victory for music creators in the state of California,” he said in a statement shared with US outlet Variety.

“Silencing any genre or form of artistic expression is a violation against all music people.

“The history that’s been made in California today will help pave the way forward in the fight to protect creative freedom nationwide.”

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