The Extremes of Rap on Trial: An Analysis of the Movement to Ban Rap Lyrics as Evidence

Volume 95

Michael Conklin

This Article is a review of Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America. The book largely focuses on the dangers of allowing rap lyrics to be presented as evidence in criminal trials. The authors posit that the fictitious and hyperbolic nature of rap lyrics are misrepresented by prosecutors as autobiographical confessions that document illegal activity and violent character traits of defendants. The authors compare rap to other musical genres and conclude that racism is the underlying cause for why the genres are treated differently in court. The authors also advocate for evidence nullification and argue for a complete ban on all rap-related evidence at trial. This Article assesses both the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence presented to support these claims. Furthermore, this Article discusses pragmatic issues such as how the author’s advocacy for their more extreme proposals may be counterproductive to enacting their more reasonable proposals.

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