Oh Word?

Many people enjoy rap music (I prefer Eminem or Jay-Z) and many people hate rap music. Indeed, the image of the genre is quite divided during this time, but there is nothing really wrong with rap music, right?

Wrong. When you read these lyrics to a song named “Ride Out” by Antwain Steward, you might have some doubts.

“Listen, walked to your boy and I approached him, 12 midnight on his traphouse porch. But nobody saw when I [expletive] smoked him, roped him, sharpened up the shank, then I poked him, .357 Smith & Wesson beam scoped him.”

It doesn’t take a Shakespeare or a Hamlet to decipher what the meaning of these lyrics mean. Clearly, this is about murder, but is it an actual crime, or just “art”? That’s what Detective Carlos Nunez of the Newport News was wondering when he saw the music video on Youtube in 2011. In 2007, two men had been murdered and there were no leads nor suspects, so the police used the Youtube video as evidence that Steward was a gang member and that he was responsible for the murders. Steward was promptly arrested and charged with the murders.

Surprising? Not really. It turns out that in more than 100 cases, rap music has been used as evidence for crimes. Here’s another example of some lyrics with dark motives. These are the words of Dennis Greene of Covington, Ohio, who was found guilty of killing his wife.

“The [expletive] made me mad, and I had to take her life. My name is Dennis Greene and I ain’t got no [expletive] wife.”

The question right now is, what is the difference between art and confession? Think about it.

References: The New York Times Upfront Magazine December 8, 2014: Rap Music on Trial by Veronica Majerol upfrontmagazine.com

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