New York Law ‘Rap on Trial’ Has Passed the State Senate

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
Jay-Z
Photo Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage

With support from Jay-Z, Killer Mike and more, the New York State Senate has passed Senate Bill S7527, also known as the “Rap On Trial” law.

Sponsored by Senators Jamaal Bailey and Brad Hoylman, New York’s “Rap on Trial” law – also known as Senate Bill S727 – has passed the State Senate. While the bill — which would stop prosecutors from citing lyrics as trial evidence — still has to pass the New York State Assembly to become a law, Senate Bill S7527 has received support from JAY-Z, Killer Mike, Meek Mill, Robin Thicke, Fat Joe and more.

The timely law comes just one week after Young Thug, Gunna and members of YSL Records were indicted on RICO charges in Atlanta.

“Art is creative expression, not a blueprint of criminal plans. Yet we’ve seen prosecutors in New York and across the country try to use rap music lyrics as evidence in criminal cases, a practice upheld this year by Young Thug’s prosecutors,” Senator Hoylman said, according to 1010 Wins. It’s time to end the egregious bias against certain genres of music, like rap, and protect the First Amendment rights of all artists. I’m proud the New York senate passed this legislation so that New York leads the way in treating artists fairly, no matter their race or gender.”

“Rap should not be treated differently from any other art form; yet in courtrooms across the country, artists have been unfairly targeted for simply exercising their right to creative expression,” said Senator Bailey. “Presuming a defendant’s guilt based solely on musical genre or creative expression is antithetical to our foundational rights and perpetuates the systemic racism that is embedded into the criminal justice system through discriminatory conflations of hip-hop and rap with criminality.”

The State Senate website explains the purpose behind the “Rap on Trial” law.

“The purpose of this legislation is to protect freedom of speech and artistic expression in New York State. This bill effectuates the enhanced free speech protections provided by the New York State Constitution, ensuring that criminal defendants are tried based upon evidence of criminal conduct, not the provocative nature of their artistic works and tastes.”

Before the New York Assembly, a companion bill is pending and awaiting a vote. Once the bill is passed by the full assembly, the New York Governor Kathy Hochul will have to sign off on the law.

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