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Your Rap Lyrics Can Be Held Against You in a Court of Law | Mother Jones

Stashed in: Hip Hop, Awesome, Lawyers!, @jayz, Wait, What?

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In his memoir Decoded, hip-hop star Jay-Z wrote, "The art of rap is deceptive. It seems so straightforward and personal and real that people read it completely literally, as raw testimony or autobiography." As Nielson and his research partner Charis Kubrin note in their paper, "Rap on Trial," "If rap lyrics are treated as mere diaries or journals, no special skill or training is necessary to analyze them, and consequently juries may hear false or misleading testimony about rap from witnesses…who lack the basic qualifications to offer it."

So we SHOULD treat lyrics as confessions? Or as artistic interpretations that are fiction?

We should treat rap like any other art form.

"Some First Amendment advocates contend that using rap lyrics in court is a slippery slope to eroding the overall protections given to all types of artistic work and social commentary. Nielson doesn't buy that. He points to a 1996 study by researcher Carrie Fried, who took violent song lyrics and told one group they were from a country song, one group they were from a folk song, and one group they were from a rap song. 

The group that thought they were looking at rap lyrics found the song to be more offensive and a greater threat to society than the folk and country groups. The study is old, but the stereotypes remain. "I'm just not convinced that using traditionally white forms, for example country music, or using novels against white authors would work," Nielson says. "There is something about rap music that gives it this special treatment. It's been negated as an art form."

I do wonder how movies get away with showing illicit substance use, murders, etc on screen.

Artistic license?

Those things actually happen in our world.  Movie goers pay to experience them vicariously.  

I guess just because they're showing illegal activity doesn't mean they're doing illegal activity.

Except in pornos, where people are paid to have sex. How is that legal?

They're consenting adults paid to let other consulting adults watch them have sex.  

However, pornos are a subset of the sex industry, which includes sex trafficking of minors.  A Venn diagram would be helpful here: where pornos overlap minors, there is crime.

Well it's also a crime to pay consenting adults to have sex, right? That's prostitution.

Where does prostitution end and filmmaking begin? If it is filmed, then paying for sex is okay?

Or do they have to file for permits too?

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