California Governor signs bill protecting rap lyrics

Act protects artistic freedom from being used against them in court

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed The Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act, which protects artists from having their creative expression used against them as evidence in a criminal trial. In August, The California Senate and Assembly unanimously approved the bill, AB 2799. The state is the first to sign such a bill despite the First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of expression.

“Artists of all kinds should be able to create without the fear of unfair and prejudicial prosecution,” Newsom states. “California’s culture and entertainment industry set trends around the world and it’s fitting that our state is taking a nation-leading role to protect creative expression and ensure that artists are not criminalized under biased policies.”

“Today we applaud Governor Newsom on this pivotal decision that will allow all creators to express themselves and follow their artistic vision without barriers of prejudice!” RIAA Chairman & CEO Mitch Glazier shares. “The RIAA has been a vocal advocate for AB 2799 because all too often rap and hip-hop artists have suffered for the same kind of hyperbole and imagery other genres routinely use without consequence. With the signing of the California rap lyrics bill into law, voices that may have been stifled are now fully open to expression.

“Today we celebrate an important victory for music creators in the state of California,” adds Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. “Silencing any genre or form of artistic expression is a violation against all music people. The history that’s been made in California today will help pave the way forward in the fight to protect creative freedom nationwide. We extend our gratitude to Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer for his leadership on this issue and to Governor Newsom for recognizing the importance of protecting artistry and signing the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act into law.”

Unfortunately, the use of creative expression, specifically rap lyrics, in criminal proceedings has been an ongoing issue since the early 1990s. Newsom was joined virtuallly by Mason Jr., Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer, Tyga, Meek Mill, and other artists from the music community.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: