The Threat of Rap Music

I have served, or am currently serving, as an expert witness in five cases involving rap lyrics as evidence, and I have probably consulted on twenty others. In this op-ed for The Washington Post, I draw on that experience, as well as my research, to consider the impact that Elonis v. U.S. could have on aspiring rappers, especially those who rely on social media to disseminate their work.

As I argue here, police are spending a surprising amount of time monitoring sites like YouTube and Facebook, often finding rap lyrics or videos that they (mis)interpret as evidence of a crime.  The results can be disastrous for young artists who are in many cases using this music to escape a life of crime, not perpetuate one.

One thought on “The Threat of Rap Music”

  1. Just read your paper Rap on Trial, doing research after the San Diego District Attorney tried (without success ) to use Rap music against Brandon Duncan, aka Tiny Doo.

    Here is some of the reporting we did. But that raised the question in my mind of how common this was, and thanks for telling me it was far more common than we expected. So we are working on a feature article on this practice.

    I enjoyed the writing and will give me far more context when I listen again to the TD album, as well as a few others.

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