“Rap music lyrics are neither inherently truthful, accurate, self-referential depictions of events, nor necessarily representative of an individual’s mindset.”
Professor Andrea Dennis, School of Law, University of Georgia
“Rap on Trial greatly increases the risk that the jury will not evaluate the evidence properly, because while rap lyrics and videos can depict graphic criminal activity and violence, they often have little to no probative value: they are art, and frequently fictional.”
Prof. Jack Lerner and Prof. Charis Kubrin, University of California, Irvine
“We must learn from the playbook of US lawyers, scholars, activists, and rap practitioners, who have, in a comparable context to the UK, been challenging the hyper-criminalisation of young Black people via their expressive culture.”
Prof. Eithne Quinn, The University of Manchester
The overcriminalisation of rap and rappers, though by no means universal, is international in scope. So is the push back against it.
Since its outset, the Prosecuting Rap project has been partnering with US scholars engaged in comparable work under the title Rap on Trial.
US partners of the Prosecuting Rap project
Professors Andrea Dennis (Law, University of Georgia), Charis Kubrin (Sociology, University of California at Irvine) and Erik Nielson (Liberal Arts, University of Richmond) have been instrumental in the development of the Prosecuting Rap network. They all spoke at The University of Manchester’s Prosecuting Rap launch event in 2015.
Selected links to US Rap on Trial research, media coverage and legal advice
'Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics and Guilt in America' book
The award-winning 2019 Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics and Guilt in America by Erik Nielson and Andrea Dennis. It served as the basis of a documentary film The Racist Roots Of Rap On Trial | Louder Than A Riot (2020)
'Rap on Trial : A Legal Guide for Attorneys'
The comprehensive 2021 guide for US lawyers on the use of rap evidence, by Profs Jack Lerner and Charis Kubrin. Very relevant for the UK context too.
Prof. Erik Nielson press articles
A collection of press articles by/about the US’s foremost rap expert witness, Prof. Erik Nielson, University of Richmond. @ErikNielson
Rap on Trial website
The excellent US-focused Rap on Trial website, launched by Prof. Charis Kubrin at UC Irvine. Her site includes a rap on trial reading list and lots of other relevant resources. See also Prof Kubrin’s TED Talk ‘The Threatening Nature of … Rap Music?’ (2014).