Prosecuting Rap: What Does the Case Law Tell Us?

Forthcoming in Popular Music (2022)

LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 07/2022

25 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2022

See all articles by Abenaa Owusu-Bempah

Abenaa Owusu-Bempah

London School of Economics - Law School

Date Written: March 21, 2022

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Owusu-Bempah, Abenaa, Prosecuting Rap: What Does the Case Law Tell Us? (March 21, 2022). Forthcoming in Popular Music (2022), LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 07/2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4062205 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4062205

Abenaa Owusu-Bempah (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law School ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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