California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill Friday to limit the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials amid a surge in prosecutions that use rappers’ lyrics as grounds for charges.
The bill, which Newson signed along with rappers, record producers and rap industry executives, is the first in the country to ensure that someone’s “creative expression” is not used to “introduce stereotypes or active bias” against a defendant or be used as evidence in a trial against them, ‘The Hill’ newspaper reported.
The measure would require courts to determine whether song lyrics are admissible as evidence and whether the content should be linked to an alleged crime, all in the face of the danger of undue prejudice caused to the artist.
This new legislation, which passed unopposed in the California State Senate and Assembly, comes after Atlanta rappers Young Thug and Gunna were among two dozen people arrested earlier this year on racketeering charges.
The charges against them refer to the lyrics of their rap songs, as the state prosecutor’s office justified that rapper Young Thug formed a street gang and promoted it through his music, according to the aforementioned newspaper.