Gavin Newsom has signed a bill restricting the use of lyrics in trials. That would ease some of the pressure that musicians, especially Black, face as their lyrics put them in danger of implication in criminal trials.
The California Governor signed the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act to limit the way lyrics by an artist can be applied against them in criminal evidence. While the law does not outright prohibit using certain lyrics as evidence, it institutes an assumption that lyrics henceforth will have minimal weightage as evidence.
Prosecutors in California will henceforth need to prove before a court that the lyrics that were written during the crime could have some precise likeness to the committed crime. Or it might need to depict true-life details related to the particular crime that is not in public knowledge.
Signing Of DAEA By Gavin Newsom Could Pave Way For Similar Federal Act
The signing of the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act could in the future catalyze the formation of a federal law along similar lines and would help remove negative perceptions and prejudices associated with rap and other creative forms of expression. This bill is relevant for all creative expressions but is particularly relevant for hip-hop lyrics.
Rap lyrics have been frequently targeted by critics and targeted by prosecutors during criminal trials. They have cited them as proof of irrefutable guilt.
Rappers such as Drakeo, Young Thug, and Gunna had their lyrics used against them. Charges brought against them range from conspiracy to infringe upon the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act and murder.
This August, the bill was approved by both the State Assembly and the Senate in California before it came to Gavin Newsom. Artists who attended the online ceremony as Gavin Newsom signed into law the DAEA bill included Killer Mike, Meek Mill, Tyga, and E-40.
Advocates for freedom of expression were effusive in their praise for the bill and the precedent that it would be setting. The CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, Mitch Glazier called it a pivotal decision and said that it would allow creators would be free from the constraints of prejudice as they follow their creative vision. He said that voices that had remained stifled so far will now find open expression.