When it comes to gangsta rappers and their music, that line of what to take literal and what to decipher as imaginative has always been cloudy.
Gangsta rappers, for the most part, want you to take them seriously. A rapper named Sir Shoot A-Lot wants you to take him for his word. You f*ck with him, he will shoot you…a lot (hence the name, of course.)
Things change, however, when 17-year-old John from Tennessee kills someone while listening to Sir Shoot A-Lot’s greatest hits. Conservative fingers start pointing Mr. Sir Shoot A-Lot’s way, and all you’ll hear from the rapper is yells of “Don’t blame me. He wasn’t supposed to take my sh*t literal! Where were the parents!?”
It’s a fascinating paradox, one that falls in line with the recent trend of prosecutors using rapper’s lyrics against them in court.
During Lil Boosie’s murder trial, prosecutors used lyrics from the song “187,” a track recorded the same night the victim was killed, as proof that the rapper was involved. Apparently it wasn’t proof enough, because Boosie was eventually acquitted of all murder charges.
On the other hand, B.G. had his lyrics and videos examined and the powers that be determined that he should be sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for an illegal gun (he was also a felon, hence the harsh sentence.)
The latest instance of art merging with the court occurred on Tuesday. Philly-native Meek Mill was back in his hometown for court, concerning a case he caught back in 2008.
While at court, the assistant D.A. Noel Ann DeSantis reprimanded Meek for lines he spit in his Dreamchaser 2 standout “The Ride.” On the track, Meek raps these unflattering words about Ms. DeSantis:
"The D.A. said she hate me but I don't understand/When I just rocked a show in front of 50,000 fans/I think that bitch racist, she probably in a clan/ She take her pain out on me, but she probably need a man.”
A little mean? Yes. Worth a public scolding? Apparently so, because Ms. DeSantis had this to say:
"Everyone is entitled to free speech, but the defendant obviously has a personal issue with this prosecutor. Lobbing personal insults, it just tries to dissuade the prosecution or dissuade the judge from focusing on the defendants actual actions. He certainly tells his opinion, but when you're under supervision you have to respect the judge, the prosecutor, the police.”
Meek didn’t like this much, clearly, but he kept his composure while talking to this swaggy-looking Fox 29 reporter outside of the court.
Clearly, Boosie’s and B.G.’s cases are more serious than whatever hopping-the-train case Meek is going to court for, but the same question can be formulated from all cases: Should a rapper's lyrics even be presented in court?
If Al Pacino or Robert De Niro ever caught a murder charge, we wouldn’t use scenes from The Godfather, Scarface or Casino, even though hundreds of poor souls were killed throughout those movies. (Why’d you do that to Fredo, Al?)
Boosie and B.G. didn't get that same kind of courtesy, though, and I think it has to do with the fact that we never see an off-switch with them. While actors can play numerous parts, Boosie is always gonna be Boosie: A kid from the hood who grew up wild, got his life together, but isn't afraid to go back in the mud if need be.
The confusing message rappers send out that I talked about earlier doesn’t help, either. We're not sure when to take them for their word, and when not to.
Lil Boosie, B.G. and Meek are all artists, and they'll tell you that their art, in part, imitates their life, which means it's fair game in real life situations.
No matter what Sir Shoot A-Lot tries to tell you when those fingers are pointing his way.
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