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Rapper’s music must now be approved by the United States government

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Rapper’s music must now be approved by the United States government

NEW ORLEANS (WKRC) – A federal judge has ordered that hip-hop artist B.G., short for Baby Gangsta, must send all future songs to the federal government before publication so they can authorize the lyrics.

The strange ruling from Susie Morgan, Untied States district court judge, is an extremely interesting development in the long-running debate on whether or not lyrics and other forms of artistic expression should be permittable evidence in court.

B.G., whose legal name is Christopher Dorsey, piqued the interest of probation officers when he worked with two artists with felony convictions, Gucci Mane (Radric Davis) and Boosie (Torence Hatch Jr.). Individuals on probation, like Dorsey, are typically prohibited from associating with those who have been convicted. Prosecutors also noted that Dorsey’s newer music did not align with his rehabilitation goals set for his probation, which they argued demonstrated he had no intent on rehabilitation.

Parole officers requested that Dorsey be arrested. The rapper’s attorneys were able to prove that he had received permission to work with Davis and Hatch Jr. while he was being monitored at a halfway house before his supervised released. Dorsey references this halfway house in the caption of one of his most recent songs, which is one of the tracks prosecutors are interested in.

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Dorsey was initially arrested but quickly released until prosecutors asked the judge to order Dorsey to refrain “from promoting and glorifying future gun violence/murder” in his future work, as well as multiple other similar requests about song content. They argued that the lyrics glamorize the lifestyle Dorsey and other rappers often find themselves in legal trouble for, and “are inconsistent with the goals of rehabilitation.”

Dorsey’s attorneys argued that limiting what an artist can or cannot make art about was “an unconstitutional prior restraint of free speech.” Judge Morgan said that “may be” correct, and was not willing to enforce such a limit on Dorsey at this time. Even so, she believed the prosecutors had real reason to believe Dorsey’s lyrics were inconsistent with his rehabilitation goals, so she ordered that he must turn over his lyrics to the government before publishing them. If the government decided the lyrics went against Dorsey’s probation, the prosecutors may have a chance to change the terms of Dorsey’s supervised release.

Morgan also emphasized that Dorsey cannot work with individuals convicted of a felon unless given express permission. The judge finally tacked on 400 hours of community service for good measure.

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B.G. is most well known for his 1999 single “Bling Bling,” a song about the rapper’s lifestyle of luxury goods, drugs, and sex. The rapper was also apart of infamous hip-hop label Cash Money Records alongside other major names like Lil Wayne. The Cash Money Records label formed a small group of rappers called the Hot Boys, which included B.G., Lil Wayne, Juvenile, and other rappers from the New Orleans area.

Dorsey’s current probation is a consequence of pleading guilty to illegal gun possession in 2012.

This case comes after a long debate about using art as evidence in the court of law. Superstars in the music industry like Christina Aguilera, Jay-Z, Coldplay, and Megan Thee Stallion have all voiced their disdain for prosecutors presenting lyrics as legal evidence in court. The conversation is so prevalent that a documentary was created about the issue called “As We Speak.”

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