When Lyrics Are Used Against Rappers in Court
Rappers Tekashi 6ix9ine, Snoop Dogg, and Boosie all referenced crimes in their lyrics — then lawyers used it against them in court. Should this be allowed?
Some high-profile legal cases have seen rappers have their lyrics used against them
Snoop Dogg was charged with first degree murder after the 1993 of a rival gang member by his bodyguard. During the trial in 1996, prosecutors referred to his song “Murder Was the Case,” which depicts the rapper being convicted of homicide. Snoop was eventually cleared of all charges, as seen from an MTV News interview taken from 1996.
In 2017, 16-year-old Texas rapper Tay-K was under house arrest and facing capital murder charges following his alleged involvement in a home invasion robbery that left 1 person dead. He cut his ankle monitor and went on the run for 3 months — during which time he released “The Race,” which bragged about his time on the run. The track was read as evidence of his fugitive lifestyle in court, and Tay-K was sentenced to 55 years for the 2016 robbery.
In 2012, Baton Rouge rapper Boosie was put on trial for allegedly paying a teen hitman to commit a murder. The evidence? Lyrics to Boosie’s songs “187” and “Bodybag,” which were recorded on the same day as the killing. Boosie was later found innocent, and legal experts were critical of the use of his lyrics tin court.
In 2019, Brooklyn rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine took the stand as a key witness in a trial to testify against members of his alleged gang, the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. During the trial, his music videos and lyrics in the songs “Gummo” and “Kooda” were used to identify key gang members and gang locations used by Nine Trey. For testifying against his former affiliates, Tekashi will avoid 47 years in prison on charges of racketeering drug distribution weapon possession murder conspiracy.
It seems like such a cruel irony that a rapper’s imagination, which offers so many listeners a metaphorical and literal escape, is the same thing that, in the end, could become the miscomprehended evidence that snatches back that freedom.