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Rolling Loud’s Call for Justice: The RAP Act and the Defense of Artistic Expression

 Artists and Advocates Rally Against the Use of Lyrics as Legal Evidence

The famed Rolling Loud Miami festival recently advocated for artists’ rights by convening a panel discussion with the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) to campaign for the Restoring Artistic Protections (RAP) Act. This effort, inspired by rapper Young Thug’s incarceration, aims to protect artists from having their lyrics used against them in court.

The panel featured significant people such as Rolling Loud co-founder Tariq Cherif, BMAC co-founder Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, Congressman Hank Johnson, and Congressman Jamaal Bowman during the festival’s first day.

The discussion centered on the RAP Act’s significance, especially in light of recent attempts by prosecutors to use Young Thug and his Young Stoner Life (YSL) crew’s lyrics as evidence in a RICO case.

Cherif passionately voiced his support for Young Thug, expressing his desire to see the artist freed and back on the Rolling Loud stage. He emphasized the festival’s social responsibility to champion those facing injustice, especially within the music community.

Congressman Bowman highlighted the broader implications of the issue, pointing out that the criminalization of lyrics is rooted in both racism and ageism. He explained that rap, predominantly produced by Black artists, faces disproportionate scrutiny compared to other music genres. Bowman also touched upon the ageist aspect, noting that hip-hop, as a youth-driven genre, challenges established political and economic systems, making it a target for suppression.

Rolling Loud'S Call For Justice: The Rap Act And The Defense Of Artistic Expression, Yours Truly, News, April 13, 2024
D.a. Varela/Dvarela@Miamiherald.com

The panelists also discussed the broader societal context, referencing recent educational curricular decisions in Florida that present a skewed perspective on historical events, such as the benefits of slavery. Congressman Johnson emphasized the interconnectedness of these issues, suggesting that the suppression of Black voices in music is part of a larger pattern of marginalizing Black narratives.

Stiggers, in his address to the audience, celebrated the unifying power of hip-hop, noting that festivals like Rolling Loud exemplify the potential for diverse communities to come together in harmony. He described the event as a representation of America’s promise, where individuals of all backgrounds can unite under the banner of music.

The RAP Act, initially introduced in July 2022 and reintroduced in April 2023, represents a crucial step in the fight for artistic freedom. As the Rolling Loud festival showcased, the music community is ready to rally behind this cause, ensuring that artists can express themselves without fear of legal repercussions.

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