Ronell Wilson: Are Rap Lyrics Now a Death Sentence?

Should rappers feel emasculated due to more and more prosecutors using the lyrics rappers write against them?

Should rappers feel emasculated due to more and more prosecutors using the lyrics rappers write against them? Recently a 23 year-old young man named Ronell Wilson “Rated R” in New York was arrested on suspected murder of two undercover police officers. During the initial arrest police found his pockets stuffed with lyrics with rhymes telling his counterparts to wear bullet-proof vests if they dare wanted to challenge him as well as a line that said he would leave .45-caliber slugs in their heads.

Prosecutors feel they have struck gold with his lyrics and if the jury convicts Ronell Wilson on Wednesday he would face a possible death sentence.

According to CNN, prosecutors have used rap lyrics to help establish motives and shed light on defendants’ characters. Some have brought up the lyrics only during sentencing.

Does being a rapper and writer who writes suspenseful raps reflect who you are as a person? What about the rappers who don’t write their own lyrics? Are then the songwriters to be next? Are rappers the characters that they portray when they rap these lyrics or is it just as if he/she was an author of a thriller book or a movie director? Will prosecutors begin to prosecute movie directors and screenwriters? Movies, television, dvd’s and cable promote and profit off of drug, sex and violence via video daily, yet if an actor was to be arrested he’s not judged over the movie role that he/she plays, are they? Why is it such a trend to judge a rap/hip-hop music entertainer this way? Some consider this as a prejudice and discrimination. Do you?

Reports go on to state that a Philadelphia defense attorney Michael Coard, who also teaches a class on hip hop at Temple University, stated that attempting to use rap as a window into a defendant’s mind is especially problematic, given rap’s tradition of overtly ridiculous braggadocio.

“It’s about boasting. It’s about exaggerating. … It’s about acting,” he said. “If Robert De Niro, or Al Pacino or Marlon Brando are charged with shooting somebody, are they going to be playing clips from `The Godfather’ in court?”

When rapper Project Pat was convicted on carrying a concealed weapon in his car, his lyrics where thrown at him. Rapper Beanie Sigel was also sentenced on gun charges in Philadelphia when a federal prosecutor used his lyrics against him.

Though initially this seems targeted at rappers, some people fear that prosecutors attempting to use lyrics against rappers will make a trend that could grow against any entertainer. This could lead to unfairness against any who play a role in the music/entertainment business thereby drawing negative views onto an Industry built around role playing.

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