Warner, Sony, Universal, BMG, Kobalt and more sign joint letter calling for end to use of rap lyrics as evidence

Artists, industry leaders, and legal experts have come together to call for “Protecting Black Art,” publishing an open letter in New York Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution urges legislators across the United States to limit the use of creative expression against defendants at trial.

Specifically, according to a press release, it calls for “an end to the racist practice of treating rap as confession”.

The long list of diverse signatories includes companies such as Warner Music Group, Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, BMG, Kobaltand LVRN based on Atlanta and Quality control, Gifts AEGAudiomack, Deezer, Living country Entertainment, SiriusXM, SoundCloud, Spotify, TIDALTikTok, and Music on YouTube.

Organizations such as Independent Music Association of America, American Civil Liberties Union, Artists Rights Coalition, Black Music Action Coalition, Black Women Roundtable, BLD PWR, Colors Change, Organization for Individual Rights and Expression, NYU Center for Race, Inequality and Law, People for the American Way, PEN America, Rap Union, Recording Academy , Recording Industry Association of America, Red Hot,, North American Musicians, Sony Music Group’s Global Social Justice Fund, Warner Music Group / Blavatnik Family Foundation’s Social Justice Fund, Woke Vote , and Universal Music Group’s Task Force on Meaningful Change also signed the letter.

Other signatories include legal and humanities scholars from elite universities such as Columbia, Harvard, Howard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale.

Additionally, signed artists and musicians, such as 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 and Drake.

Other signed artists include 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 , Take Off, Tanna Leone , Teddy Swims, Tee Grizzley, Theo Croker, Travis ScottTy Dolla $ign, WILLOW, YBN Nahmir and Yo Gotti.

Drafted and published by Warner Music Group (WMG), part of the letter reads:

“In addition to the apparent disregard for freedom of expression and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, this racist targeting practice punishes communities that are already marginalized. margins and stories of their families, struggles, survival and triumphs”.

It added: “We urge prosecutors to voluntarily cease this practice in their jurisdictions. In the meantime, we encourage legislators at the state and federal levels to explicitly limit how creative expression can be used against defendants at trial.”

You can read the entire letter here.

“Enough is enough. If prosecutors don’t want to put an end to this activity on their own, then legislation needs to be passed to end this blatant abuse.”

Kevin Lies

Kevin Liles, President & CEO of WMG’s 300 Elektra Entertainment said: “For decades, a racial double standard has been applied against Black and Brown hip-hop artists by turning their creative visions against them before the courts of law. the law.

“Enough is enough. If prosecutors don’t want to put an end to this activity on their own, then legislation needs to be passed to end this blatant abuse.

“On behalf of WMG, I want to thank the extraordinary group of people in our industry and the legal community who are joining us in this important fight.”

“The harsh reality is that Blacks’ ability to create art is being threatened to an unprecedented degree, and we must do our best to stop this unethical, discriminatory approach. to prosecute.”

Julie Greenwald, Atlantic Band

“Throughout history, artists have created characters and forged stories that reflect the culture around them,” said Julie Greenwald, President & CEO of WMG’s Atlantic Music Group.

“That freedom of expression is essential to the creative process and the role of art in society. The harsh reality is that Black people’s ability to create art is being threatened to an unprecedented degree, and we must do our best to prevent this unethical, discriminatory approach to prosecute “.

WMG noted in a press release that experts have found more than 500 cases involving rap music as evidence in the public record, and that this number is “just the tip of the iceberg.”

WMG added: “For the most part, this does not take into account prosecution proceedings, juvenile cases or cases that end in a plea bargain, and plea bargaining is part of the plea bargain. results in criminal prosecutions. Meanwhile, the researchers found only four cases since the 1950s of non-rap lyrics being submitted as evidence – three of which were dropped, and the fourth was overturned. after being convicted. “

The press release further notes that “legislators at the state and federal levels have taken action” and cites Governor Newsom, who recently signed a bill into law in California, with bills currently under way. considered in New York and New Jersey, as well as the RAP (Restoring for the Protection of the Arts) Act introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson and Representative Jamaal Bowman in the United States Congress.

The #ProtectBlackArt movement started earlier this year when Liles and Greenwald launched a petition, which today has nearly 65,000 signatures.Worldwide music business


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