Are Rap Lyrics a Confession?

Rap lyrics as a confession isn’t a new topic or question. I remember hearing about this a few years ago with someone who had rap lyrics on their Facebook page that was arguing it should be inadmissible in court. Just Googling “rap lyric confession” gave me these examples:

and more. But today my wife was watching the latest episode of The Daily Show, which contained this clip:

In case that clip eventually goes away, Trevor Noah discusses this news story in which a bunch of rappers, including Jay-Z, are trying to get the law changed in New York so that rap lyrics are inadmissible in court. Frankly, I always thought it was BS that rappers could have it both ways – boast about crimes for street cred, but argue it was just art, not a confession. (Kind of like those assholes who pretend to be reporters covering the news on actual news channels until they get in trouble and then it’s all supposed to be parody or not taken seriously) But I immediately thought of this great Key and Peele sketch:

Published by Eric Mesa

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2 replies on “Are Rap Lyrics a Confession?”

  1. There’s a really good “Louder than a Riot” series relating to Mac Phipps about this too (https://www.npr.org/2020/10/13/923405080/lyrics-on-trial-mac-phipps-pt-2). I dunno, man, it feels wrong to try someone for what they say in a song. It’s like assuming someone who sings about partying or having lots of sex is a drug-user or promiscuous person. It’s just a song. Moreover, country music is full of murder ballads and songs about drinking or vandalism and these laws are very disproportionately enforced. I’m sure you can guess who this gets used against more often than not…Not to mention that there’s a lot of pressure to produce that kind of content, regardless of whether or not you actually are an actual gangster. It’s what sells and it’s what record execs are looking for.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Dan! I’ll have to listen to that episode – they kept advertising the series for a while on my other podcasts.

      Great points about country music, as well.

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