After pushing for change in the way the judicial system views lyricism, rappers like Meek Mill, E-40, YG and more are celebrating the progress that has been made in California to protect artists from prosecution due to their lyrics.
On Friday, September 30, Governor Gavin Newsom officially signed AB 2799 into law. The Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act is the first bill that limits the use of creative works as evidence in a court case and protects artists from any unfair bias. Over a month after AB 2799 passed unanimously in the State Senate, Governor Newsom invited several artists and community leaders to attend the signing virtually.
“Artists of all kinds should be able to create without the fear of unfair and prejudicial prosecution,” Newsom said according to Complex. “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.”
Artists like Meek Mill, YG, E-40, Too $hort, Ty Dolla $ign, Killer Mike, and Tyga were on the Zoom call while Governor Newsom spoke. Other community leaders from the Black Music Action Coalition and Songwriters of North America were also in attendance along with advocates from the music industry like Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr., REFORM Alliance’s Jessica Jackson, and 300 Entertainment's Kevin Liles. Liles has also been pushing the effort heavily since his artists Young Thug and Gunna are currently awaiting trial for their RICO case.
Not only does the new bill apply to musicians, but it also extends to creatives in art, film, poetry and literature. A similar bill was proposed in New York but failed to pass in the State Assembly. There's also an effort to ban the use of rap lyrics in court at a federal level.
AB 2799 goes into effect in California in January 2023.