(AllHipHop News) Atlanta rapper Killer Mike has become one of the most outspoken voices in Hip Hop. His commentary on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri and the militarization of police forces is one of the few observations being presented by a high-profile rap star.
Mike is now publicly addressing the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases. The Run The Jewels member wrote an op-ed for USA Today laying out his position on why Hip Hop should not be seen as a threat by the courts.
The article focuses on the Elonis v. U.S case that is being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this month. In 2010, Anthony Elonis was arrested for posting violent lyrics to Facebook directed at his estranged wife. Despite arguing the words were all fiction, a jury convicted Elonis of communicating threats. He was sentenced to 44 months in prison.
In response to the Elonis case and others in recent years Mike wrote in part:
No other fictional form — musical, literary or cinematic — is used this way in the courts, a concerning double standard that research suggests is rooted, at least in part, in stereotypes about the people of color primarily associated with rap music, as well as the misconception that hip-hop and the artists behind it are dangerous.
In fact, the history of hip-hop tells a very different story. In its formative years, for example, it was explicitly conceived by many as an alternative to the violent gang culture that consumed cities like New York. Since then, it has offered countless young men and women opportunities to escape the poverty and violence in America's urban centers. As rapper Ice T once put it, "If I hadn't had a chance to rap, I'd either be dead or in jail."
Mike closes the piece by referring to the murder of Jordan Davis who was killed for playing his music too loud and Michael Brown's death being associated with his love of rap music. In Mike's opinion, these incidents of unarmed Black teens being killed at the hands of white men are more closely related to the issues of inequality, police brutality and racial discrimination than Hip Hop culture. He writes:
These problems are the "true threats" facing America today, not hip-hop. Let's hope the justices on the Supreme Court understand that, too.
In January, another Southern emcee spoke about the criminal justice system presenting rap lyrics as evidence. Bun B of UGK appeared on MSNBC’s NewsNation with Tamron Hall to express his concern with the legal trend.
“If someone chooses to incriminate themselves that’s their own thing,” said 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.”
To read Killer Mike's full op-ed click here.