Killer Mike (Run the Jewels) wrote an article, along with Erik Nielson, that addressed an alarming situation where rap lyrics are being used as evidence in court cases. The article was written last year, and it focused on the case regarding Anthony Elonis. Elonis posted violent messages (in the form of rap lyrics) on social media, which were directed at his estranged wife. Elonis stated he was just expressing himself through the form of art, and his fictitious lyrics were based on some rap music that has influenced him. Elonis mentioned Eminem as one of his influences; some of Eminem’s lyrics features threats towards his ex-wife as well. Despite his attempts to prove his threats against his wife weren’t real, the jury found Elonis guilty and he was sentenced to 44 months in prison.
There are hundreds of cases that used songs in order to convict suspects based on rap lyrics. While many of these suspects have argued their freedom of speech rights are being violated, the judicial system views their rap lyrics as key evidence. Killer Mike and Nielson’s latest article examines the recent case involving McKinley “Mac” Phipps, who is a former rapper on Master P’s No Limit Records. Phipps was found guilty of manslaughter in the shooting death of a teenager, who was killed at one of the rapper’s shows. Despite not having any physical evidence that linked Phipps to the murder, the prosecutors used the rapper’s lyrics as evidence during the trial. Prosecutors ignored the multiple witnesses who identified a different shooter to the crime, and they also blatantly ignored a man’s confession to the murder of the teenager. The jury found Phipps guilty, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
“If we let this stand, what you’re going to see is that tool is going to be used to wipe out an entire potential generation of rappers out of our community. It becomes a danger to you because it just becomes another tool that prosecutors can now use to strip you of your freedom of speech, which is guaranteed to every American. We must stand with artists like Mac [Phipps],” Killer Mike said in a statement. In his article, Killer Mike stated he is often labeled as a criminal because of his stage name. The rapper said that his stage name “Killer” means that he kills microphones with his lyrics. Killer Mike points out that the rock band “The Killers” aren’t seen as a threat because they aren’t black.
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