The use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal prosecutions has been a contentious issue for decades, stirring debates over free speech, artistic expression, and fair trial rights. This practice, dating back to at least the 1990s, has seen prosecutors cite lyrics from rap songs to bolster cases against artists, often in ways that critics argue are prejudicial and misrepresentative.

One notable early case occurred in 1996 when California prosecutors introduced lyrics from rapper Mac Dre’s song “Punk Police” during his attempted robbery trial. Despite Mac Dre’s assertion in the song that he was a “dope rhyme dealer, not a money stealer,” the jury convicted him. This case highlighted the disconnect between artistic expression and legal interpretation, setting a precedent for future uses of rap lyrics in courtrooms.