“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

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 longstanding partners on the Prosecuting Rap rap. They all spoke at The University of Manchester’s Prosecuting Rap launch event in 2015.

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Talks by Khalid Missouri (LLM Solicitors, London) and Prof. Andrea Dennis (Law, Georgia) at The University of Manchester in 2015, with the Director of CoDE, Prof. Bridget Byrne.








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Professors Charis Kubrin (on screen) and Erik Nielson at The University of Manchester in 2015.









Promotional graphic for 'Black Lives Matter Event Series- Part 1: How the US and UK state criminalise Rap and how to combat it

More recently, they have joined Prosecuting Rap UK panels, including at Garden Court Chambers in London in 2021.










Selected links to US Rap on Trial research, media coverage and legal advice

'Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics and Guilt in America' book

Cover of 'Rap on Trial' papersThe 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'

Cover of 'Rap on Trial' bookThe 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 and website

A collection of press articles by/about the US’s foremost rap expert witness, Prof. Erik Nielson, University of Richmond. @ErikNielson. See his website including information about legislative campaigns to curb rap evidence:

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).

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Explore how rap music is used in the criminal justice system and the scope of this website

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Explore scholarship, reports and Prosecuting Rap past events on the criminalisation of rap and young people