Song lyrics as criminal evidence: NY lawmakers want to impose limits

Atlanta prosecutors’ 88-page indictment cites rap lyrics from “Slime Shit” and other songs by Young Thug as evidence of his alleged crimes. Credit: YouTube.

Rap songs often glamorize guns and violence. Some songs are being used in a sprawling criminal indictment of Atlanta rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, and 27 others for racketeering. District attorney Fani Willis says Williams co-founded a record label that operated like a street gang, and its members committed murder, shootings, carjackings, and other violent crimes for a decade. 

This isn’t the first time prosecutors have used rap lyrics to support criminal charges. But New York lawmakers are trying to stop it with a bill that would limit prosecutors’ ability to use song lyrics as criminal evidence. It passed the state Senate last month and awaits a vote in the Assembly. 



  • Jack Lerner - law professor UC Irvine, co-author of “Rap On Trial: A Legal Guide for Attorneys” - @jacklerner