New York Times: Hip-Hop artists give the Supreme Court a primer on rap music

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Four years ago, a group of hip-hop artists took their free speech argument to the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of a Mississippi rapper who was suspended from school over lyrics he posted online.

The Clarion Ledger reported in 2015: They’re standing up for Taylor Bell, who four years ago was a Mississippi high school student in the Itawamba School District. He was disciplined for posting a rap song with explicit lyrics about some coaches alleged to have acted inappropriately toward female students. In their brief, the rappers urge the justices to hear an appeal from Bell.

David Banks / Associated Press

Chance the Rapper and other hip-hop filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in case involving free speech and rap lyrics. 

The high court declined to hear the case.

Four years later, some those same artists back before the Supreme Court for another case in hopes that the justices will this time provide clarity in the debate over student speech online.

The New York Times reports that this week a group of hip-hop stars are providing assistance to the justices in a case of a Pittsburgh rapper jailed for threatening the police in a song:

This time, the justices will have expert assistance from a group of hip-hop stars, including Chance the Rapper, Meek Mill, Killer Mike, Yo Gotti, Fat Joe and 21 Savage. In a brief filed Wednesday, they urged the Supreme Court to hear their fellow rapper’s First Amendment challenge to his conviction.

They also offered the justices, whose average age is about 66, what they called “a primer on rap music and hip-hop.”

“A person unfamiliar with what today is the nation’s most dominant musical genre or one who hears music through the auditory lens of older genres such as jazz, country or symphony,” they wrote, “may mistakenly interpret a rap song as a true threat of violence.”

Read the complete New York Times article here.