Should Rap Lyrics Be Used in Criminal Trials?

Categories: Hip-Hop

Obviously, as rappers like Eminem, Nicki Minaj and Tyler, the Creator demonstrate, what you see or hear is not always what you get with Marshall Mathers, Onika Maraj and Tyler Okonma. If Eminem were somehow accused of a serial killing spree, and the prosecution played "3 A.M." and the rest of his colorful catalog to the jury, the jury might think they're getting Marshall Mathers, as a whole, when they're actually getting Slim Shady at a specific time, in a specific place, after eating a specific food. To recontextualize any form of artistic expression in order to assassinate the character of an artist is not only not reliable, it's irresponsible.

That said, there are other cases where lyrics may play a more specific role in prosecution: A 2011 trial featured two aspiring rappers who allegedly stabbed and killed another man. They had written poems and songs specifically about that incident. There are also instances of police departments using music and videos to gain information about gangs.The constitution protects speech from congress; it does not protect you from your words.

Immoral activity should stain a person's character, not the artistic reflection thereof. There is a story behind every murderer, but there is not a murderer behind every story.


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