Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


Maia Young


The Black existence, in the United States of America, has always been regarded as a conditional right. Conventionally, Blackness must always be nonviolent and non-disruptive to safely exist. Because of this, Blackness cannot be confined to restraints and disrupts these conventions with acts of joy and creative expression. Black creativity is both unconventional and sacred. Black creative expression documents, preserves, and unifies cultural lived experiences, from a first-hand lens of those oppressed. Creative and artistic expression celebrates the myriad of stories that are a part of the collective Black experience. Yet, Black creative expression is now being weaponized by prosecutors against artists, despite once being employed by artists against societal injustice. Specifically, criminal prosecutors manipulate the context of Black creative expression and seek to admit it into evidence to exploit and penalize artists in a criminal proceeding. Thus, punishing artists for their cadence rather than their conduct. Rap music is not deleterious, it is a transformative musical account of an artist’s life and circumstances. Further, this practice imposes a dangerous burden on the criminal legal system to analyze questions of both fact and fiction. This Note will examine the corrupt practice of admitting rap lyrics into evidence against an artist in a criminal proceeding and its impact on rap artists and rap music. This Note will also deconstruct the language of the Restoring Artistic Protection Act of 2022 and offer an alternative critique of the proposed legislation. Ultimately, this Note will argue that rap music and hip-hop culture are innately creative, requiring an artistic interpretation of its content and protection within the criminal legal system. Rap songs are lyrical narratives, not criminal confessions.