Rap Lyrics on Trial for Pulitzers: My Rant on America’s Fancy With Selective Scrutiny


It is a Sunday afternoon and all I want is a hug from my ex or whatever pronoun used for someone who you were kind of in a relationship with, but not all of the way. My craving is momentarily neglected as NPR airs a show covering the New York Times’ article “Rap Lyrics on Trial”.  In this moment, I forget about my ex’s arms and broad shoulders, and am intrigued and excited to learn that crime is being shackled to the tune of self-professing M.C’s.

Save me your defense of the first amendment and how rappers should be allowed to freely express themselves without being perceived through the inherent bias of privileged Americans.

You might as well give Chief Keef another shotgun and tell him to shoot it on set and get arrested again for violating his probation. If rappers are confessing to the violent lifestyles they live, then it is only logical that their lyricism be used as evidence.

Chief Keef’s mother claims that her son is merely telling the story of the environment he grew up in. Percy Miller Senior, father to convicted murderer and former rapper C-Murder also states that his son’s raps should  be negated during trial, as they are only depictions of a fictitious character.

If these parents are correct, then where are the Pulitzer Prizes for such scripts that continuously creep with conviction to Supreme Courts?

If the journalists who give third hand accounts of disenfranchised communities can be awarded generous prizes from prestigious institutions, why isn’t the craftsmanship of a rapper’s first hand  narrative the same literary nod?

Rapper Nas who released an album that sparked a national debate around American vernacular entitled “Nigger” was not nominated for Pulitzer.

Rapper Black Thought who created 75 similes to contextualize and re define the word “Nigga” in a non-stop 75 bars was not nominated.

Rappers Lupe Fiasco, Drake and Mos Def whose lyrics are referenced by 2012 Pulitzer Prize winning writer Anne Perriman were not nominated.

So long as rappers who author violent lifestyles continue to be nominated for Grammys, the global perspective that rappers can reap personal and monetary value as a result of glorifying criminal and perverted behavior will prevail in our consciousness. The fictitious gangster will continue to breathe itself into existence the more we applaud for it.

So long as prestigious institutions whose responsibility it is to acknowledge excellence in the literary arts, continue to overlook the cryptic metaphors, triple-entendres, and onomatopoeia of rappers, our Supreme Courts and institutions alike will continue to justify their selective scrutiny of a rapper’s sentence.


Dre. “Rap Lyrics Are Being Used to Incriminate People, Because Why Not?”. Rotting Television. 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 Jan. 2014. <http://www.rottingtelevision.com/rap-lyrics-are-being-used-to-incriminate-people-because-why-not/>

Gorner, Jeremy. “Rapper Chief Keef Gets 60 Days in Juvenile Lockup”. Chicago Tribune. 18 Jan. 2013. Web. 19 Jan. 2014. < http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-18/news/ct-met-chief-keef-sentencing-0118-20130118_1_judge-carl-anthony-walker-chief-keef-keith-cozart >

Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Club. “Author Interview w/ Pulitzer Prize Nominee Ann Pearlman”. The Bawdy Book Blog. 31 July 2012.  The Bawdy Book Blog. Web. 20 Jan. 2014. <http://www.thebawdybookblog.com/author-interview-w-pulitzer-prize-nominee-ann-pearlman/>

Nielson, Erik, Charis E. Kubrin. “Rap Lyrics On Trial”. New York Times.13 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 Jan. 2014.<http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/14/opinion/rap-lyrics-on-trial.html?_r=0>


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