Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America


It’s one thing to know your book is coming out, but it’s quite another to hold it in your hands.  The book doesn’t officially drop until Nov. 12, but last night, I got the advance print copies, and they look great.

More important, we’ve gotten some very positive early reviews from some of the top scholars and legal practitioners in the country:

  • Rap on Trial offers captivating insight on how police, prosecutors, and judges silence and penalize Black music artists. It provides not only a rousing call to action but also a compelling blueprint for necessary change.”—Michelle Alexander
  • “By highlighting race in this brilliant, well-researched argument, Rap on Trial takes its rightful place within the pantheon of groundbreaking works that unmask the built-in biases of our legal systems.”—Michael Eric Dyson
  • “An illuminating, powerful, and disturbing exposé of how hip hop’s often raw, fantastical lyrics are taken out of context to criminalize black and brown youth.”—Robin D.G. Kelley
  • “An exceptional, nuanced look at how the state transformed an influential art form into a tool of mass incarceration.”—Anthony D. Romero 
  • “Nielson and Dennis have blessed us with a smart and engaging book that will make readers mad as hell. An essential read for activists, artists, hip hop heads, and all concerned about civil rights and civil liberties, Rap on Trial does it ‘for the culture.’” —Paul Butler

Sadly, as more and more rappers  find themselves punished for their lyrics–the ongoing Drakeo saga is a prime example–this book is more relevant than ever.  Our hope is that our efforts will help raise awareness…and eventually put an end to rap on trial.

A lot of people supported us with this, but Michael Render (aka Killer Mike) gets his own shout out.  He not only wrote the Foreword to the book, but he continues to use his platform to help us end this unfair practice.

(Thanks to Keith Plummer, husband of co-author Andrea Dennis, for this picture!)