Artists, industry leaders, and legal experts have joined in the call to “Protect Black Art,” publishing an open letter in the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution urging legislators across America to limit the use of artificial language against defendants. on trial.
Specifically, it calls for an end to the racially discriminatory practice of treating rap lyrics as confessional. (See the full letter below.)
Artists and songwriters who have signed the letter include 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, 50 Cent, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Alicia Keys, Amy Allen, Baby Tate, Benson Boone, Big Sean, Black Eyed Peas, Breland, Brothers Osborne, Bryce Vine. , Busta Rhymes, Camila Cabello, Christina Aguilera, Coldplay, Cordae, D-Nice, Dave East, DJ Drama, DJ Khaled, Drake, Erica Banks, Fat Joe, Fredo Bang, Future, Giveon, grandson, Highly Suspect, Hit-Boy , Ice-T, IDK, Isaiah Rashad, J. Cole, Jack Harlow, Jadakiss, Jay Electronica, Jeezy, Joey Bada$$, John Legend, KayCyy, Killer Mike, Lainey Wilson, Lil Baby, Lil Jairmy, Lil Tjay, Lil Uzi Vert, Mac Phipps, Mary J. Blige, Meek Mill, Megan Thee Stallion, Michelle Branch, Miguel, Moneybagg Yo, Morgan Wallen, NAV, Nessa Barrett, NLE Choppa, Normani, Omar Apollo, Pheelz, Polo G, Post Malone, Quavo, Questlove, Regina Spektor, Robin Thicke, Roddy Ricch, Shordie Shordie, Shy Carter, TI, Takeoff, Tanna Leone, Teddy Swims, Tee Grizzley, Theo Croker, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, WILLOW, YBN Nahmir, and Yo Gotti.
The long list of signatories includes companies such as Warner Music Group, Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, BMG, Kobalt, and Atlanta-based LVRN and Quality Control, AEG Presents, Audiomack, Deezer, Live Nation Entertainment, SiriusXM, SoundCloud, Spotify. , TIDAL, TikTok, and YouTube Music; organizations such as the American Association of Independent Music, American Civil Liberties Union, Artist Rights Alliance, Black Music Action Coalition, Black Women’s Roundtable, BLD PWR, Color of Change, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, NYU Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law , People For the American Way, PEN America, Rap Coalition, Recording Academy, Recording Industry Association of America, Red Hot, Sankofa.org, Songwriters of North America, Sony Music Group’s Global Social Justice Fund, Warner Music Group / Social Organization Blavatnik Family Foundation’s Justice Fund, Woke Vote, and Universal Music Group’s Taskforce for Meaning Change; legal scholars and people from elite universities including Columbia, Harvard, Howard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale.
Written and published by Warner Music Group, the letter reads in part:
“Besides the obvious disregard for the freedom of speech and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, the practice of racial discrimination punishes previously oppressed people for their stories of family, struggle, survival, and success.”
Experts have found more than 500 cases of rap as evidence in public records, and note that this number is only a tip. For the most part, this does not count criminal prosecutions, juvenile cases, or cases that end in appeals, and appeals are the most common outcome of litigation. Meanwhile, investigators have found only four cases since the 1950s of non-rap lyrics being offered as evidence – three of those cases were thrown out, and the fourth was continued after prosecution.
State and local lawmakers are already taking action. Governor Newsom recently signed a bill in California, and there are bills currently being considered in New York and New Jersey, as well as the RAP (Restoring Artistic Protection) Act introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson and Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the US. Congress.
The #ProtectBlackArt movement began earlier this year when Liles and Greenwald launched a change.org petition, which today has nearly 65,000 signatures.
Kevin Liles, Chairman & CEO of WMG’s 300 Elektra Entertainment, said: “For years, biracial people have been used against Black and Brown hip-hop artists to change their creative minds in the courts. Enough. If the prosecutors don’t want to to end this practice on our own, then laws must be enacted to end this heinous abuse. On behalf of WMG, I want to thank the incredible group of people across our industry and law enforcement who are joining us in this difficult fight.”
Julie Greenwald, Chairman & CEO of WMG’s Atlantic Music Group, said: “Throughout history, artists have created people and narratives that reflect their culture. That freedom of expression is fundamental to the creative process and the work of art in society. The hard truth is that Black talent is under threat more than ever, and we must work to stop this unethical practice.”