California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed The Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act, which will restrict the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court.
AB 2799 was signed into action by Newsom on Friday (September 30), according to Variety, after the bill was unanimously approved by California’s State Senate in August.
The Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act received strong support from artists such as Meek Mill, Killer Mike, Too $hort, Ty Dolla $ign, E-40, YG and more who were present at a virtual signing for the bill.
“The second time I witnessed the Governor of California sign bills that help our people … probation caps & bans on using rap lyrics in court ‘I RESPECT YOU’ Thankyou I understand the magnitude of the moves you make we need help in the system,” Meek wrote to Twitter.
The second time I witnessed the Governor of California sign bills that help our people … probation caps & bans on using rap lyrics in court “I RESPECT YOU” Thankyou I understand the magnitude of the moves you make we need help in the system! https://t.co/ZG1zW91hmu
— MeekMill (@MeekMill) September 30, 2022
The Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr added: “Today we celebrate an important victory for music creators in the state of California. Silencing any genre or form of artistic expression is a violation against all music people,” said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. “The history that’s been made in California today will help pave the way forward in the fight to protect creative freedom nationwide.
“We extend our gratitude to Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer for his leadership on this issue and to Governor Newsom for recognizing the importance of protecting artistry and signing the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act into law.”
California is the first state to ban lyrics being used as evidence in the courtroom. Although, there is a loophole for prosecutors to use lyrics if they can prove they’re directly relevant to the facts of the case and won’t “inject racial bias into the proceedings.”
New York attempted to pass a similar bill in May but failed to get approval from the Assembly.
Lyrics being used in court has become a hot topic of conversation within Hip Hop as of late, especially with the YSL RICO case using lyrics from various songs to build the case against Young Thug and Gunna, who currently remain imprisoned without bond as they await trial.