How Rap Works

Explaining how hip hop works to nine people aged 54 to 81 isn’t exactly an enviable assignment, but University of Richmond’s Erik Nielson and UC- Irvine’s Charis Kubrin appear up to the task... The duo have filed an amicus brief in Elonis v. United States, a Supreme Court centering on, as Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick puts it, “the speaker’s intent or the listener’s response … determine if there has been a ‘true threat’ of violence” in cases about criminal threats.” ” (Vox, Oct 1, 2014 – “Here’s how two hip hop experts explained how rap works to Antonin Scalia“)

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And here’s a few passages from that AMICI CURIAE BRIEF sampled, as they say …

at p. 17, sub III, “Fear of Rap” – “Perhaps the most illustrative example is found in the response to N.W.A.’s 1988 protest song “Fuck tha Police,” which fiercely criticized discriminatory police practices in Los Angeles. See N.W.A., Fuck tha Police, on STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Ruthless Records 1988).

at p. 18, sub III, “Fear of Rap” – “Although saying “Fuck tha Police” may be offensive, the Court has recognized the importance of protecting dissenting political speech, including safeguarding a very similar phrase, “Fuck the Draft.” Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).

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