A recent debate has emerged about whether or not a musical artist’s lyrics can be used as evidence against them in court. A lot of music, particularly rap, is starting to become known for having violent lyrics. This is clear in songs by the musical artist, The Weeknd. In his song, ”Dark Times”, he sings:
I got another man’s blood on my clothes/But an endless fog’s the life I chose
-The Weeknd, Dark Times
Another example of this is in Eminem’s 2010 song “Space Bound”:
‘Till I snap your neck like a Popsicle stick, ain’t no possible reason I can think of to let you walk up out this house¨
-Eminem, Space Bound
Rapper YNW Melly has recently encountered the issue of violent rap lyrics coming back to haunt him with his song, “Murder On My Mind.” To summarize, Melly wrote “Murder On My Mind” in 2016. The song was released in March of 2017. However, people believe the song is a confession about the murder of his best friends, Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr., who were killed on October 26th, 2018. He later turned himself in on February 13th, 2019. He was charged with first-degree murder of his two friends. Clearly, there is an inconsistency in this timeline. He made the song supposedly about the murder of his friends in 2017, but they were killed in 2018. This struck immediate suspicion.
The question that should be asked is: Should artists be allowed to say violent things in their music without it being used against them? I asked Fitch High School sophomore, Zieema Hadley Stephens, the same question. She replied,
“I think that everyone should have freedom of saying whatever they want unless he said a direct thing, like a name. Like “I’m going to kill ____.” and then that person ended up dead. Then, obviously that’s a reason, but if he’s just rapping about anything, then I don’t think so. I think they should be able to say whatever they want, when they want, how they want.”
Some rappers feel extremely strongly about this. They are even willing to take the case to court. An article by CNN shows how other artists such as Chance the Rapper, Meek Mill, and Killer Mike went to court to defend violent lyrics. The rappers say that aggressive lyrics aren’t a “true threat of violence.”
This debate is still ongoing and in full force and the question remains: Iis using violent rap lyrics in court unjust and a way of censoring freedom of speech?