Over 100 musicians signed a letter published in the New York Times on Tuesday calling for the use of music lyrics in criminal trials across the United States to be prohibited. WMG drafted the document, but it was cosigned by Sony Music Group, SiriusXM, Spotify, TikTok, and others.
50 Cent, Lil Baby, J. Cole, Jack Harlow, John Legend, Killer Mike, Alicia Keys, Camila Cabello, Christina Aguilera, Coldplay, DJ Khaled, Drake, Future, and many more have signed the letter.
“In courtrooms across America, prosecutors are increasingly using artists’ creative expression against them,” the article begins. “Regardless of the medium – music, visual arts, writing, television, or film – fans understand implicitly that creative expression is rooted in what artists see and hear; it is a reflection of the times we live in.” The finished piece is the result of the artist’s vision and imagination.”
“Rappers are storytellers, creating entire worlds populated with complex characters who can play both hero and villain,” the letter continues. Rap lyrics, more than any other art form, are being used as confessions in an attempt to criminalise Black creativity and artistry.”
The letter then goes on to discuss Young Thug, Gunna, and the rest of YSL’s upcoming trials. The crew is awaiting trial in a high-profile racketeering case in which rap lyrics are expected to be used as evidence.
By the letter’s end, the group praised Governor Gavin Newsom for recently signing a bill addressing the issue into California law. They also praised the work of U.S. Congressmen Hank Johnson and Jamaal Bowman, who introduced the RAP (Restoring Artistic Protection) Act.