Atlanta, GA – Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said she has every intention of continuing to utilize rap lyrics to prosecute musical artists who incorporate their criminal exploits into their songs.
“I think if you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I’m going to use it,” Willis told reporters during a press conference on Monday. “I’m going to continue to do that. People can continue to be angry about it.”
Willis’ office is currently prosecuting alleged members of the Drug Rich gang – a violent street gang that has been accused of carrying out a string of home invasions targeting various social media influencers and celebrities, NBC News reported.
Twenty-six people have been named in the 220-count indictment, which was filed on Aug. 22.
Willis has alleged that those listed in the indictment have spoken about their crimes in their music, NBC News reported.
“I have some legal advice: Don’t confess to crimes on rap lyrics if you do not want them used — or at least get out of my county,” she said on Monday. “I’m not targeting anyone, but you do not get to commit crimes in my county and then decide to brag on it, which you do as a form of intimidation, and not be held responsible.”
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office used similar evidence in another case involving more than a dozen defendants, including rappers Gunna and Young Thug, NBC News reported.
That 58-count indictment was filed on Aug. 5.
Atlantic Records COO Julie Greenwald and 300 Entertainment Co-founder Kevin Liles have launched a petition titled, “Rap Music on Trial: A Petition to Protect Black Art” in an effort to push for rap lyrics to be made inadmissible as evidence of criminal action or intent, Forbes reported.
“As you may know, currently in Georgia, multiple artists belonging to Young Stoner Life Records – including celebrated artists like Young Thug and Gunna – are facing more than 50 allegations, including RICO charges which claim the record label is a criminal gang,” Greenwald and Liles said. “The allegations heavily rely on the artists’ lyrics that prosecutors claim are ‘overt evidence of conspiracy.’”
They alleged that “Black creativity and artistry is being criminalized” by prosecutors, Forbes reported.
“With increasing and troubling frequency, prosecutors are attempting to use rap lyrics as confessions, just like they’re doing in this case,” Greenwald and Liles added.
Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Unit Chief Mark Rossini told Forbes that the prosecutors in Fulton County did not indict any of these suspects simply because of their song lyrics.
“They have been arrested for their violent and criminal Acts,” Rossini said. “The prosecutors are seeking to show a potential jury that the arrested rappers either used their lyrics to confess to a crime, project a future criminal act, and or send a message to a victim.”
The former FBI unit chief said he does not believe artists of any kind need to worry that they will be arrested simply because of the content of their work.
“No one is ‘weaponizing’ black music as several industry executives have claimed,” he told Forbes. “There is a clear distinction between an artist, Black or White, expressing themselves, and a prosecutor being able to show a jury the direct link between an artist’s lyrics and their criminal acts or their overt acts done in furtherance of committing said criminal acts.”