Artists, industry leaders, and legal experts have joined in a call to “protect black art,” publishing an open letter in the New York Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution urging lawmakers across America to limit how Creative expression can be used against defenders. At trial
Specifically, it calls for an end to the racist practice of treating rap songs as confessional. (See full letter below.)
Artists and singers who have signed the letter include 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, 50 Cent, Boogie Wet The Hoodie, Alicia Keys, Amy Allen, Baby Tate, Benson Bone, Big Sean, The Black Ed Peas, Breeland, The Brothers Osborne, Bryce Wayne. , Busta Rhymes, Camila Cabello, Christina Aguilera, Coldplay, Corday, D-Nice, Davy East, DJ Drama, DJ Khaled, Drake, Erica Banks, Fat Joe, Fredo Bang, Future, Gavin, Grandson, Too Suspicious, Hit- Boy, Ice-T, IDK, Isaiah Rashad, J. Cole, Jack Harlow, Jadakiss, Jay Electronica, Jeezy, Joey Bada$$, John Legend, KayCyy, Killer Mike, Lainey Wilson, Lil Baby, Lil Jairmy, Lil Tjay, Lil Uzi Vert, Mac Phipps, Mary J. Blige, Meek Mill, Megan The Stallion, Michelle Branch, Miguel, Moneybagg Yo, Morgan Wallen, NAV, Nessa Barrett, NLE Choppa, Normani, Omar Apollo, Phelz, Polo G, Post Malone Quavo, Questlove, Regina Spektor, Robin Thicke, Roddy Ricch, Shordie Shordie, Sharmee Carter, T.I., Takeoff, Tana Leone, Teddy Swims, Ty Grizzly, Theo Crocker, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla$ign, WILLOW, YBN Nahmir, and Yo Gotti.
The long list of signatories includes companies such as Warner Music Group, Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, BMG, Cobalt, and Atlanta-based LVRN & Quality Control, AEG Presents, Audiomic, Deezer, Life Nation Entertainment, SiriusXM, SoundCloud, Spotify, TIDAL, TikTok, and YouTube Music; Organizations such as American Independent Music Association, American Civil Liberties Union, Artists’ Rights Alliance, Black Music Action Coalition, Black Women’s Roundtable, BLD PWR, Color of Change, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, Generation About NYU Center on Inequality, and the Law, People for an American Way, PEN America, Rap Coalition, Recording Academy, Recording Industry Association of America, Red Hat, Sankofa.org, North American Singers, Sony Music Group International Social Justice Fund, Warner Music Group/Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund, Vox Vote, and Universal Music Group Task Force for Meaningful Change; Law and humanities scholars from top universities including Columbia, Harvard, Howard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale.
Drafted and published by Warner Music Group, the letter reads in part:
“Beyond the blatant disregard for free speech and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted act punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival and triumph.”
Experts have found more than 500 cases in public records involving rape as evidence, and they note that this number is only the tip of the iceberg. For the most part, it does not account for prosecutions, juvenile cases, or cases that end in a plea deal, and plea deals are the majority of outcomes in criminal trials. Meanwhile, researchers have found only four examples of non-rap lyrics being presented as evidence since the 1950s — three of those cases were thrown out, and the fourth was thrown out after a conviction.
Lawmakers at the state and federal level are already taking action. Governor Newsom recently signed a bill into law in California, and bills are currently under consideration in New York and New Jersey, as well as the RAP (Rehabilitation of Art Preservation) Act, which in the U.S. Hank Johnson and Rep. Introduced by Jamal Bowman. Congress.
The #ProtectBlackArt movement began earlier this year when Liles and Greenwald launched a change.org petition, which today has nearly 65,000 signatures.
Kevin Liles, president and CEO of WMG’s 300 Elektra Entertainment said, “For decades, black and brown hip-hop artists have been challenged in the courts of law by changing their creative perspectives. The standard has been worked out. Enough is enough. If prosecutors are not willing to end this practice themselves, then laws must be passed to end this blatant abuse. On behalf of WMG, I would like to ask our industry to Thank you to the extraordinary group of people and the legal community who are joining us in this serious fight.
Julie Greenwald, president and CEO of WMG’s Atlantic Music Group, said: “Throughout history, artists have created characters and fictional narratives that reflect the culture around them. Freedom of expression is central to the creative process and the role of art in society. The harsh reality is that black artistic creativity is threatened at an unprecedented rate, and we must stop this unethical, discriminatory practice from pursuing it.