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Lyrics in the Courtroom

Jersey Teen Faces 10 Years Behind Bars over Violent SoundCloud Rap

Photo: George Douglas Peterson via SoundCloud Eighteen-year-old Michael Schmitt of West Caldwell, New Jersey is facing up to 10 years in prison, reports Buzzfeed, after posting a controversial rap on his SoundCloud profile, illschmitt✖︎ ✖︎, alluding to violence […]

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Pennsylvania Court Weighs Decision to Convict Rapper Over Lyrics

A still from the video for Jamal Knox’s (a.k.a. ‘Mayhem Mal’) first single since being incarcerated, ‘MayDay 3/11’; Photo: YouTube After five years a Pennsylvania court will finally determine whether a Pittsburgh rapper by the […]

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6th Graders Promote Education and Self-Confidence in New Rap

Terrence Sims’ sixth grade students at the Milwaukee Excellence Charter School rapping in the official video for ‘Excellence First!’; Photo: Terrence Sims/YouTube A group of sixth graders at the Milwaukee Excellence Charter School in Milwaukee, WI have […]

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Bay Area Rapper Sees His Lyrics as Evidence in Murder Trial

Hasson Hedgepeth’s, a.k.a. Young Bo, profile picture on Soundcloud; Photo: Young Bo/Soundcloud A questionable rapper who’s on trial for murder now has to answer for his lyrics, which allegedly rap about killing someone, according to […]

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Rapper Arrested for Anti-Cop Lyrics Argues Protection Under Free Speech

A screenshot from a Jamal Knox (a.k.a. ‘Mayhem Mal’) YouTube video aside a campaign image commissioned for Legal Means via painter Rashad Jamaal.  Jamal Knox, the Pennsylvania rapper who was arrested back in 2012 for his […]

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Op-Ed: Killer Mike’s Supreme Court Lyric Precedent is More Than Just About Rap

Over the past few years Michael Render (a.k.a. Killer Mike) has emerged as one of the most outspoken artists in rap, vocal both on and off the stage against civil rights violations. He’s written spirited […]

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15-Year-Old, Would-Be School-Shooter Shows His Hand With Eminem Lyrics

In yet another clash in the eternal battle between free speech and violence prevention, last week a Fresno, CA 15-year-old posted Eminem lyrics from 2000’s “I’m Back” that reference a Columbine-like massacre to his Instagram account, […]

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Man Who Went to Jail for Posting Metal Band Lyrics Sues Police

Back in the fall of last year we picked up the story of 31-year-old Kentucky citizen, James Evans, who went to jail for eight days for posting lyrics of thrash metal crew Exodus‘ song, “Class Dismissed (A […]

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Lyrics in the Courtroom: The Ludacis File

In 2014 alone there were numerous cases that saw lyrics used in court as evidence, in some instances as a means to indict — Markest D. Thompson, Antwain Steward, and Vonte Skinner to name a few. […]

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What We Learned From Killer Mike’s Op-Ed on Using Rap Lyrics in Courts

As rap and hip-hop culture has evolved – from its infancy on the corner of Cedar and Sedgwick to what it is today, a multibillion dollar industry with global sway – a startling trend has emerged. […]

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