The man accused of killing Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay can not have his rap lyrics used against him at trial, a Brooklyn judge ruled Tuesday (January 30). The verdict praised hip-hop as “a forum for speech to people who had mostly been voiceless.” Federal prosecutors tried to use Karl Jordan Jr.’s lyrics to convict him of murdering Jay, a pioneering artist born Jason Mizell, in 2002. Brooklyn Federal Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall examined hip-hop’s 50-year history in her 14-page opinion, citing over a dozen artists’ songs before ruling the lyrics inadmissible. While Hall stated that courts should be “wary” about using rap lyrics in court cases, she stated there may be exceptions for songs that detail a crime.
Should song lyrics be used in court cases? Why or why not?