A coalition of rap artists, scholars and music market representatives submitted a short to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday in defense of a rapper who was convicted for threatening Pittsburgh police officers in a song.

Their argument, which focused on how rap music has historically served as a automobile for political commentary and constitutes protected speech, also contained a thoughtful evaluation about how the war on drugs has inspired some of the genre’s most memorable operate.

In the late 1980s, rap groups like Public Enemy “launched strong attacks against the establishment, addressing a host of social complications, which includes racism, inequality, inner-city drug use, and police brutality,” the coalition, which integrated rappers like Killer Mike, Possibility the Rapper and Meek Mill, wrote in the petition.

The clearest instance of that “oppositional postures” can be heard in N.W.A’s 1988 song “Fuck tha Police,” they wrote. Though the song was created to be a “response to the increasingly aggressive policing techniques in Los Angeles” at the time, “it became an anthem of resistance in communities across the nation as police started waging the War on Drugs.

“Already weakened by joblessness and drug addiction, these communities watched in horror as newly militarized police departments turned weapons of war—helicopters, armored cars, and machine guns—on their personal citizens. At the very same time, men and women have been getting locked up in record numbers, top to an incarceration crisis that at some point turned the United States into the world’s incarceration capital.

“In Los Angeles, police hostility and brutality have been commonplace. Black and brown guys in distinct have been routinely harassed, arrested, and beaten by police, normally as element of the city’s anti-gang and anti-drug efforts, which have been some of the most aggressive in the nation. Extended ahead of the therapy of the present opioid crisis as a public overall health emergency, Daryl Gates, the Los Angeles Police Division chief from 1978 to 1992, openly opined in a U.S. Senate hearing that casual drug customers ‘ought to be taken out and shot.’”

The petition also broadly covered the function of rap music in society and argued that racial prejudice has led the genre to be unfairly cast as violent and hazardous, specially offered the a lot more accepting therapy that other genres have been granted even although they generate comparable operate.

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Published: March 07, 2019

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