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FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2021, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom gestures during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. California on Thursday, July 1, 2021 scheduled a Sept. 14 recall election that could drive Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, the result of a political uprising largely driven by angst over state coronavirus orders that shuttered schools and businesses and upended life for millions of Californians. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)
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On Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the state legislature’s Assembly Bill 2799—also known as the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act. The law will prevent the use of rap lyrics in prosecutions. Hip hop artists Killer Mike, Meek Mill, E-40, Ty Dolla $ign, and Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, Jr. were among those present for the virtual signing ceremony.

CA is the 1st state to ensure creative content – like lyrics & music videos – can’t be used against artists in court without judicial review.

Thanks, @JonesSawyerAD59 for your work & @yg @KillerMike @tydollasign @Tyga @MeekMill @E40 @TooShort for your dedication to the cause.

— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) September 30, 2022

Representatives for Songwriters of North America and the Black Music Action Coalition also joined the call.

“For too long, prosecutors in California have used rap lyrics as a convenient way to inject racial bias and confusion into the criminal justice process,” said SONA’s Dina LaPolt in a statement about the bill. She continued, “This legislation sets up important guardrails that will help courts hold prosecutors accountable and prevent them from criminalizing Black and Brown artistic expression. Thank you, Gov Newsom, for setting the standard. We hope Congress will pass similar legislation, as this is a nationwide problem.”


According to Pitchfork, lyrics have been a central and controversial tool leveraged by prosecutors in several recent high-profile cases, including the May RICO sweep that landed Young Thug, Gunna, and several of their associates in jail.

Several of Young Thug’s lyrics appear throughout the indictment

— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) May 10, 2022

The prosecuting district attorney has maintained that references to drugs, weapons, and violence are evidence of gang activity. Meanwhile, California’s state legislature approved and passed the bill to Newsom’s desk in late August. Advocates for the new law are continuing to push for federal legislation to the same end, the Restoring Artistic Protection (RAP) Act.


“Artists of all kinds should be able to create without the fear of unfair and prejudicial prosecution,” the governor said in a Friday statement. “California’s culture and entertainment industry set trends around the world, and it’s fitting that our state is taking a nation-leading role to protect creative expression and ensure that artists are not criminalized under biased policies.”

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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