Jay-Z, Meek Mill, Big Sean, Fat Joe, Yo Gotti, and more are petitioning to push to pass Senate Bill S752.
If approved, Senate Bill S752, will stop courts from using rap lyrics as evidence during criminal trials. In a letter to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Jay-Z’s lawyer, Alex Spiroto wants Senate Bill S752 a state law.
“This is an issue that’s important to (Jay-Z) and all the other artists that have come together to try to bring about this change,” Spiro, shared. “This is a long time coming. Mr. Carter is from New York, and if he can lend his name and his weight, that’s what he wants to do.”
Kelly Rowland, Killer Mike, Robin Thicke, and more artists have joined in signing and supporting this new legislation.
“Our lyrics are a creative form of self-expression and entertainment – just like any other genre,” Fat Joe said. “We want our words to be recognized as art rather than being weaponized to get convictions in court. I hope the governor and all the lawmakers in New York take our letter into consideration, protect our artistic rights and make the right decision to pass this bill.”
The new legislation would limit the use of “creative expression” as evidence and push prosecutors to prove that the lyrics aren’t just fictional, with “clear and convincing evidence.” Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator Jamaal Bailey, and Assembly member Catalina Cruz have brought the legislation forward.
Hoylman used the example of Johnny Cash singing that he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die” and David Byrne calling himself a “psycho killer,” without anyone taking them literally.
“Presuming a defendant’s guilt based solely on musical genre or creative expression is antithetical to our foundational rights and perpetuates the systemic racism that is embedded into the criminal justice system through discriminatory conflations of hip-hop and rap with criminality,” Bailey said.
“This is a long time coming,” Spiro said. “By changing the law here, you do a lot of good for the cases that it affects, but you also send a message that progress is coming. We expect it will be followed in a lot of places.”
JAY-Z has been working to help turn over unjust prison sentences, in an attempt to seek a reduced sentence for Valon Vailes.
Jay is helping to get his sentence reduced, but officials are refusing over a leftover meal. Vailes was convicted and is serving a 20-year prison sentence for intent to distribute more than a ton of marijuana. Team Roc attorney Alex Spiro has been working to get a compassionate release but federal prosecutors are denying it after Vailes attempted to sneak leftover chicken into his cell, as he is being cited for using a piece of his prison uniform as workout equipment.
Vailes, now 56, has been a model inmate, but has expressed his frustration with the judicial system. Spiro wants a federal judge to reduce Vailes’ sentence to time served and release.