In an unprecedented act of solidarity, over two dozen major hip-hop and pop artists and industry insiders recently came together in an open letter aimed at “protecting Black art,” which would limit how artists’ lyrics can be used in court cases.
In an open letter that was published in both the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, major hip-hop artists urged politicians and other policy makers to limit how creative expression (especially in the form of song lyrics) can be used against defendants on trial as confessions or proof of a crime. The letter cites the shocking statistic that states that “experts have found more than 500 cases involving rap as evidence in public records” while there have been just “four instances since the 1950s of non-rap lyrics being submitted as evidence – three of those cases were thrown out, and the fourth was overturned after conviction.”
The hip-hop artists included Drake, Mary J. Blige, 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, 50 Cent, Big Sean, Alicia Keys, the Black Eyed Peas, John Legend, Busta Rhymes, Camila Cabello, Fat Joe, DJ Khaled, Jadakiss, Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Ricch, T.I., Future, J. Cole, Jack Harlow, Ice-T, Killer Mike, Lil Baby, Quavo, Joey Bada$$, John Legend, Lil Uzi Vert, Moneybagg Yo, Post Malone, Questlove, Tee Grizzley, Ty Dolla $ign, Yo Gotti, and the late Takeoff. Other major pop and country stars such as Morgan Wallen and Christina Aguilera also signed the letter as well as representatives from major record labels.
Julie Greenwald, Chairman & CEO of WMG’s Atlantic Music Group, made the following statement: “Throughout history, artists have created characters and forged narratives that reflect the culture around them. That freedom of expression is essential to the creative process and the role of art in society. The harsh reality is that Black artistic creativity is being threatened at an unprecedented level, and we must make every effort to stop this unethical, discriminatory approach to prosecution.”
The full letter can be read here.
The #ProtectBlackArt movement stems from a change.org petition that was launched earlier this year. Today, the petition has nearly 65,000 signatures.