(AllHipHop News) Bun B is one half of the legendary southern Hip Hop group UGK. He is also a professor at Rice University and potential political candidate. With those credentials as an artist, educator, and possible politician, Bun spoke with MSNBC’s NewsNation with Tamron Hall about the ongoing practice of the criminal justice system using rap lyrics to convict suspects of crimes.
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The discussion stemmed from reports that the New Jersey Supreme Court was reviewing whether a defendant’s lyrics is admissible as evidence in trial. According to Bun, every rapper should not be held criminally accountable for artistic speech.
“If someone chooses to incriminate themselves that’s their own thing,” says Bun. “Once we open this door to start just going through everyone’s rap lyrics to try to find crime in there, I think that’s where we have the problem.”
There have already been several recorded incidences of rappers’ lyrical content used as evidence against them in criminal cases. In July of 2013, Virginia rapper Antwain “Twain Gotti” Steward was charged with several crimes, including murder, after police cited his lyrics in a YouTube video about the alleged killings as admission of guilt.
In August of 2013, Deyundrea “Khali” Holmes’ first-degree robbery and murder convictions were held up by the Nevada Supreme Court. The court ruled that Holmes’ “Drug Deala” song, allegedly detailing the crime, could be used as a confession in court.
While not specifically speaking about any particular case of rap lyrics being used as evidence, Bun does elaborate on his belief that a rap artist’s constitutional right to free speech should allow him or her to present an artistic view of the world around them.
“As an artist, I want to 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,” adds Bun. “But if I’m just expressing my viewpoints about different things that 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 viewpoint. We see it in all forms of music, not just rap music. So why shouldn’t we be able to speak our minds?”
Bun goes on to talk about how Hip Hop shines a light on the struggles of the inner city for the rest of the world to see and hopefully seek change. He also addresses rumors that he may run for mayor of Houston, Texas in 2015 which he says is not practical. He would consider going for a seat on the city council in the future.
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Watch Bun B’s discussion on NewsNation in the video below.