Most people see rap and hip-hop music as an art form. But for years, rappers have had to defend their lyrics from the law while other music genres haven’t been held to the same standards. Now, after Pittsburgh rapper Jamal “Mayhem Mal” Knox faced jail time for something he said in a song, other well-known rap artists aren’t letting the case go down without a fight.
Jamal Knox was first arrested in 2012 over lyrics he included in a rap song
Knox is a rapper out of Pittsburgh who was arrested in 2012 on drug and gun offenses, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Afterward, he wrote a song, “[Expletive] The Police,” in response to his arrest. In the song, he named the police officers who were reportedly going to testify against him, and the song contained lines such as, “Let’s kill these cops ‘cause they don’t do us no good.” The rap song and video were posted on YouTube, and once the police caught wind of the song, Knox was charged with intimidation of witnesses, terroristic threats and conspiracy.
Now, a brief has been filed with the Supreme Court over whether Knox is being treated fairly
Although Knox was originally arrested back in 2012, a brief was recently filed with the Supreme Court over whether Knox was treated fairly because he’s a rap artist. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Knox was found guilty in a nonjury trial, and the verdict was upheld in the state Supreme Court. Knox reportedly crossed a line that was not protected by his First Amendment rights, but other rappers are coming to his defense, saying that plenty of artists have songs that depict violence yet they’re not arrested and jailed.
Well-known rap artists such as Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Chance the Rapper, and Jadakiss are all working with lawyers to support Knox
Rap artists such as Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Chance the Rapper, and Jadakiss have all come together to take on the Supreme Court in an effort to make sure rappers are treated fairly by the law. Jadakiss recently appeared on the morning show Good Day New York to explain that other artists, specifically Johnny Cash, have referenced death and murder in their songs but were never punished. Jadakiss’ lawyer went on to explain that it isn’t necessarily about getting Knox cleared but rather making sure that all artists are held to the same standards. They feel that the law can’t pick and choose who is guilty and who isn’t.
Unless the Supreme Court intervenes, Knox will have felony charges on his record for the rest of his life
Knox doesn’t believe the felony charges against him are fair, since other artists don’t deal with the same discrimination. Now, those charges will stay on Knox’s record forever unless the Supreme Court intervenes. And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. A high schooler in Mississippi once got in trouble for posting rap lyrics on social media about sexual harassment from two coaches. Rap artists such as T.I., Killer Mike, and Big Boi came to his defense, but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. It’s unclear if the same things will happen, but hip hop stars are hoping for a change.
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