Three of Atlanta’s most-famous rappers gave an interesting co-sign to aspiring Mississippi rapper T-Bizzle. Killer Mike, Big Boi, and T.I. filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to hear Bizzle’s case, after he was suspended from high school for posting a rap song online that accused two coaches of sexual misconduct.
T-Bizzle, whose real name is Taylor Bell, sued to have his record expunged and appealed his case all the way up to the Supreme Court. The justices are set to make a decision on whether to hear his case. In the brief, the rappers made the case for rap lyrics being protected under the First Amendment. In the brief, the three stars say that Bizzle was using rap to “confront injustice” and had his rights infringed upon via the suspension.
“The government punished a young man for his art — and more disturbing, for the musical genre by which he chose to express himself.”
The brief also includes a bit of a joking introduction to the rappers, assuming that the Supreme Court justices might not be hip-hop heads. It tells the justices that Killer Mike has “never actually killed anyone.” (Clearly f*ckboys don’t count.) Killer Mike told the New York Times that the justices should be able to recognize rap as an art form and separate violent lyrics (Bell’s song says that coaches who are “looking down girl’s shirts” will receive a “pistol down [their] mouth”) from actual statements of intent to cause harm.
“Anyone who is learned in law is capable of separating arts and lyrics, whether you agree with them or not, and actual human behavior. I think the courts understand it when it’s Johnny Cash. I think they understand it when it’s Robert Nesta Marley.”
The case could very well set a standard for the treatment of rap lyrics, which have regularly been treated in a manner that is inconsistent with lyrics in other forms of music. For example, rapper Tiny Doo was facing life in prison after prosecutors used his lyrics as evidence that he profited from gang-related activities (and attempted to murder someone). Those charges were eventually dropped, but whether rap lyrics can be used as evidence of wrongdoing remains unclear.
(Via Rolling Stone)