Rap on Trial- Decriminalizing Artistic Expression, Look West podcast, April 2023

Under the recently enacted Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act, written by Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles), artists, particularly rap music artists, will not have their work used against them in a courtroom in California as a sole way of connecting them with a crime. In this episode of the Look West podcast Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer sits down with Harvey Mason jr, CEO of the Recording Academy, GRAMMY – Award winning Hip-Hop icon and Founder and CEO of Rock the Bells LL COOL J, and Professor of Criminology, Law & Society Charis Kubrin. In a very animated conversation they talk about why this new law is so important, what it means for creative expression and avoiding implicit bias in the treatment of artists, particularly young men of color.

    Convicted for Rap Lyrics. Los Angeles Daily Journal 132(31):1. February 2019.

     Rap on Trial: How an Aspiring Musician’s Words Led to Prison Time produced by Hidden Brain, NPR, May 2018

  A Potential Censorship or Criminalization of Rap Music published in the New York Times, December 2014.

  Will top court challenge prosecution of rap? published on CNN.com, June 2014.

 Rap Lyrics or True Threats? It’s Time for the High Court to Decide published in Forbes, May 2014.

  A new California trend– prosecuting rap published in the Los Angeles Times, April 2014.

  Rap Lyrics on Trial published in the New York Times, January 2014.


“New Tools for Challenging Rap Lyrics and Videos in the Courtroom.” Contra Costa Public Defenders, March 7.

“Rap Lyrics in Criminal Cases: Autobiographical Confessions of Illegal Behavior or Artistic Expression?”, Fowler School of Law, Chapman University, February 24. Presentation as part of their symposium, Rhythm, Rhyme and the Rule of Law.

“When Your Client’s Art is Used as Evidence: AB2799, Rap and Freedom of Artistic Expression.” LA County Public Defender, Juvenile Services Division, May 2023.

“Rap Lyrics on Trial.” UC Law San Francisco, March 2023.

“New Tools for Challenging Rap Lyrics in the Courtroom.” Office of the State Public Defender, January 2023.

“Rap on Trial.” New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, April 2022.

“Rap on Trial.” Annual Meeting of the National Association of Public Defenders, March 2022.

“Rap on Trial: A Legal Guide for Attorneys.” Office of the State Public Defender, January 2022.

“Rap on Trial: A Legal Guide for Attorneys.” Minnesota Public Defender’s Office, October 2021.

“Rap on Trial.” University of Illinois, Springfield, Department of Art, Music and Theater, October 2021.

“Rap on Trial.” Northumbria University, Centre for Evidence and Criminal Justice Studies, February 2021.

“Rap on Trial.” Federal Public Defender’s Office, Central District of California, February 2018.

Rap on Trial.” Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Montana State University, September 2017.

“Rap on Trial.” Pillars of the Community, DocumentMe Conference, San Diego, August 2017.

Rap on Trial.” Department of Sociology, Dartmouth College, April 2017.

Rap on Trial.” Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, University of Southern California, March 2017.

“Rap on Trial.” University of Iowa, Department of Sociology, December 2016.

Rap, Race, and the Reproduction of Inequality.” Museum of Man in conjunction with their exhibit, Race: Are We So Different?, May 2016.

“Rap Lyrics on Trial.” University of California, Irvine, School of Law, October 2015.

“Prosecuting Rap: Raising Public Awareness and Ensuring Fair Trials.” University of Manchester, American Studies, October 2015.

Rap on Trial: ‘For Every Rhyme I Write, It’s 25 to Life.’” Georgia State University, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, August 2015.

“Rap Lyrics on Trial.” Appellate Judicial Attorneys Institute, April 2015.

Rap Lyrics on Trial.” Pittsburgh Humanities Festival, March 2015.

“‘For Every Rhyme I Write, It’s 25 to Life’: Rap on Trial.” University of Colorado, Boulder, Department of Sociology, March 2015.

“‘For Every Rhyme I Write, It’s 25 to Life’: Rap on Trial.” University of Missouri, St. Louis, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, February 2015.

Art or Confession? Using Rap Lyrics as Evidence in Criminal Trials.” Criminal Justice Research Center, Ohio State University, September 2014.

The Threatening Nature of…Rap Music?.” TEDxOrangeCoast,  September 2014.

“‘For Every Rhyme I Write, It’s 25 to Life’: Rap Lyrics Stand Trial.” American Sociological Association, August 2014.

“Rap on Trial.” Virginia DUI Drug Treatment Court Training: Advancing Recovery & Solutions, August 2014.

“Rap on Trial.” Rutgers University, School of Criminal Justice, April 2014.

Rap on Trial.” University of California, Irvine, Center for Psychology and the Law,  January 2014.