Bun B appeared on MSNBC recently to talk about the hotly debated topic about using rap lyrics in a court of law; specifically the New Jersey Supreme Court and NYPD. A story appeared in the NY Times a week ago about an up and coming rapper named Vonte Skinner indicted on attempted murder charges for his involvement in a shooting that occurred in 2005.
The case prosecutor read 13 pages of “violent lyrics” to the jury in the 2008 trial, which, reportedly were written before the alleged shooting, none of which made any mention toward the crime. Ultimately, the jury found Skinner guilty and he was sentenced to 30 years, but not before his conviction was overturned on grounds of the First Amendment and freedom of speech. The appellate court which overturned the conviction stated that the use of Mr. Skinner’s rap lyrics “should never have been admitted as evidence.”
Bun B had this to say on the subject:
As an artist, I wanna be free to speak my mind, my opinions, my outlook on the World. If I’m speaking in hate against people, then that’s a different issue. If I’m just expressing my view points about different things I see in society, different things I see going on in the World, then I don’t see why there should be an issue with me expressing that view point. We see it in all forms of music, not just Rap music. So why shouldn’t we be able to speak our minds?
It’s a very thin line to tread on, as I agree that rappers (who are artists) should be allowed the freedom of speech and not have to worry about the use of what they write coming back to bite them in their asses. On the other hand, we have young hot heads such as Chief Keef and Lil Reese who vehemently promote violence in their music, ultimately blurring the lines between life and art.
Sound off below with your opinions on the subject.