Following our extension of a conversation the New York Times prodded on cops bustin’ lyric chops for gang and criminal activity, the hip-hop community, and music community at large, has its eyes on an impending New Jersey supreme court ruling that could allow for lyrics to be legitimate grounds for convictions.
Why this particular case in Jersey tied around a man named Vonte Skinner is something of a watershed moment for the issue of free speech is odd, as the Times notes in a separate piece that in Jersey alone, there were 18 cases that sought to use rap as evidence in court. But there were originally 13 pages of violent verse and rhyme used to sentence Skinner to 30 years in prison in 2008 for a shooting in 2005, only to be overturned in 2012 by an appellate court that ruled the lyrics shouldn’t have been used as evidence.
So goes a sampling of Skinner’s rap brain that showcased some legal red flags:
I’m the dude to shoot at ya’ neck, shatter your life like a bottle of Becks/One and only to slice a dude like bologna, you don’t know me/I’ll watch you pricks die slowly, lay you stiff like a trophy
Now with the NYPD push, we posited a division between crime and entertainment in the name of free speech. And we’re all for putting bad dudes behind bars. But this goes beyond “Tipper Stickers” and wrist-slaps, people. A mightier Freedom is at stake, here. Johnny Rotten could be prosecuted as the antichrist. Johnny Cash a killer. Rick Ross for rape - alright that wouldn’t be all that bad. But the point stands, yes? Judge people on their actions. Not their music. Unless you’re 1993 Snoop trying to “save the dogg:”