Rap Lyrics: Art or Evidence?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Screenshot from Ra Diggs & Uncle Murda video for "Shots Pon Dem" (Youtube)

New York Times Metro reporter Stephanie Clifford discusses the murder and racketeering trial of the rapper known as Ra Diggs and the judge's decision to allow his lyrics and videos to be used as evidence of criminal wrongdoing.


Stephanie Clifford

Comments [10]

Ra Diggs and Uncle Murder, meet Donald Sterling.

Jun. 02 2014 10:10 AM

This guy is guilty of something big, at the very least of inciting violence.

Sad how glorified it is...I feel for the young kids trying to make it out of

the projects when these guys are the 'heroes'.

May. 29 2014 10:35 AM
Amy from Manhattan

This story makes me think of the "Apple buys Beats" story. Dr. Dre, who co-owns Beats, was accused of throwing a DJ, whose name I don't remember, down the stairs at a club after she gave him a bad review--& then tried to justify doing it (although I don't think he ever mentioned it in lyrics). I don't remember if there was a court case, but it looks like he's about to become a billionaire...& none of the stories about the acquisition is mentioning that incident.

May. 29 2014 10:20 AM
john from office

Drums along the Congo, updated to the internet age.

May. 29 2014 10:18 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

"yo, meet me on that corner, i'm gonna pick up that stuff" - MC Lehrer's Improv Rap

Yo, Brian, you so gangsta!

May. 29 2014 10:15 AM

Nypd cop was sent to jail for Internet fantasy posts. Gilberto Valle.

May. 29 2014 10:14 AM
John from office

Brian, you cannot say the Rap "Music" is the New York Times for Black people and claim, in past shows, how it speaks of the black experience and their news broadcasting method and now claim it is "art" and not truthful.

Anyone that posts videos and songs about their criminal activity is an idiot, like the people who post criminal activity on facebook.

Brian, people in housing projects don't listen to your show, note the lack of calls from the hood.

May. 29 2014 10:13 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

There are a lot of urban rappers who tell crime stories in the first person, it isn't some sort of rarefied literary genre that cannot be understood by other than an urban audience. But the fact is a lot of criminals are stupid and if some are stupid enough to write lyrics about their criminal exploits it cannot be ruled out of evidence by claiming "artistic expression". A lot of eminem's lyrics are avowedly and obviously his own dark, violent fantasies as opposed to this case where the suspect is alleged to be boasting about murders he had committed. Big difference.

May. 29 2014 10:13 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Art or Evidence? In this case I think the clear answer is NEITHER. But in all seriousness it probably does constitute circumstantial evidence. I'm not familiar with the other evidence but if the case hinges on the lyrical content of the music the suspect wrote then there really is no case.

May. 29 2014 10:08 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Using the term "art" to describe his "music" is quite a stretch.

May. 29 2014 10:06 AM

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