UGK’s Bun B has stepped forward to speak out on hip-hop coming under fire courtesy of new reports which claim law enforcement’s using artists’ lyrics in the courtroom.
In Bun B’s opinion, there is a difference between free speech and incrimination.
“If someone chooses to incriminate themselves, then you know, that’s their own thing. I think the problem is that once we open this door to just start going through everyone’s rap lyrics to try to find crime in there, I think that’s where we have the problem,” Bun explained in an interview. “We already know that racial or social profiling is not acceptable in this society but yet we still have issues like this popping up in places. As an artist, I want to be free to speak my mind, my opinions, my outlook on the world. If I’m speaking in hate against people, then that’s a different issue. But if I’m just expressing my viewpoints about different things that I see in society, different things I see going on in the world, then I don’t see why there should be an issue with me expressing that viewpoint. We see it in all forms of music, not just rap music, so why shouldn’t we be able to speak our minds?” (MSNBC)
According to recent reports, New York detectives have closely examined and sometimes used rappers’ music videos to place them behind bars.
In December, for instance, investigators said that a case against 11 gang members had been aided by a music video, produced by a minor group called Dub Gang Money. The video, according to a police lieutenant, Peter Carretta, provided evidence that those arrested were part of an established gang and associated with one another. The Police Department’s interest in music videos coincides with a broad shift in patrol strategy: as the department de-emphasizes stop-and-frisk tactics, it has assigned scores of street officers to patiently pursue longer-term investigations against neighborhood gangs, particularly the youth gangs known as crews or sets. (New York Times)
This new tactic has saved police a significant amount of time and helped speed up criminal cases.
The risk that the police might be listening is something of a professional hazard to the rappers. “It’s a double-edged sword,” said Patrice Allen, 35, who currently manages Mr. Nelson and another A.T.C. member, K-Dot, whose name is Karon Stanley. Both are under felony indictment in a Brooklyn gang case. “If you have that much passion and love for the music, I guess you have to deal with it. That’s just what comes with the music. It’s the bitter and the sweet, you know?” It once could take months or years to translate the raw tales of street life from demo tapes to record deals, airtime and music videos. But rappers are now releasing lyrics and videos directly to YouTube, giving local talent — and local beefs between gangs — much wider audiences. (New York Times)
A few years ago, Houston rapper Chamillionaire said the number of rapper incarcerations proved his point about hip-hop police’s existence.
“It’s amazing how much people say on raps,” Cham said in an interview. “People say it’s just your imagination; but at the end of the day it does paint a picture about you, and whether it’s true or false, I’m sure there are people watching. How many rappers are in jail now? I think the music only reflects the lifestyle. I don’t think there’d be a lot of police looking to find crack on me, but if it’s somebody who talks about that and guns all day, they might try to catch a burner on them.” (Spinner)
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Check out Bun B’s interview: