Prosecuting Rap: What Does the Case Law Tell Us?
Forthcoming in Popular Music (2022)
25 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 21, 2022
This article explores the admissibility and use of rap music as evidence in English criminal trials. It presents findings from an analysis of over thirty appeal cases. As well as unpacking the link between rap, race and gangs that is prevalent in these cases, the article challenges the categorisation of rap as ‘bad character evidence’, and critiques the way in which questions of relevance and prejudicial effect have been addressed by the courts. In particular, when making admissibility decisions, the courts appear to give little consideration to the cultural context, artistic conventions or social influences within the rap music genre, or the racialised nature of rap evidence. It is argued that, if rap is to be admissible evidence, a much more rigorous and informed approach is required.
Keywords: Criminal law, criminal evidence, relevance, bad character evidence, youth culture, rap music
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