Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike urges Supreme Court to throw out high school rap case

Hip hop duo won Best International Band at NME Awards with Austin, Texas

Run The Jewels rapper Killer Mike has co-written an opinion piece urging the Supreme Court to overturn a case which ruled against a high school student who wrote a rap song accusing two of his coaches of sexual misconduct.

Taylor Bell, who was a Missisippi high school student, was disciplined by his school in 2011, after he filmed a rap video containing offensive content about two of his teachers, basing the song on accusations of groping that girls at the school had made against two teachers.

Bell is trying to get his school record expunged, in part because the filming took place outside of school premises and during the school holiday, but also because of the interpretation Bell’s lyrics.

He was suspended on the grounds that he had ‘threatened, harassed, and intimidated” school employees,” a decision that was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

NMEJordan Hughes/NME

Now Mike, who was recently among a group of rappers who submitted written evidence towards the Supreme Court appeal, has scribed a column for CNN with University Of Richmond associate professor Erik Nielson calling for the case to be re-ruled.

Killer Mike wrote: “He (Bell) is following a long line of platinum-selling rappers – including Ice Cube, Eminem, Nas and Jay Z – who have built careers and made millions doing the same thing.

“Throughout those careers, none of their fans ever believed that Ice Cube would kill former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, that Eminem would kill his wife, Kim, or that Nas and Jay Z would kill each other – all claims the rappers made in their songs.

“Likewise, we don’t assume that Quentin Tarantino, Stephen King or Johnny Cash carry out the (sometimes extreme) violence depicted in their art — because we acknowledge it as art.

“But as we have noted before, rap is often denied that respect, particularly in the criminal justice system, where amateur rappers, almost always young men of colour who lack the name recognition (and bank accounts) of their professional counterparts, are routinely prosecuted for their music, either because people believe that rap should be read literally or because they just don’t like it.”

Run The Jewels won Best International Band at NME Awards 2016 with Austin, Texas on Wednesday (February 17).
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