Minimum Gauge: Hip Hop Stars Chance the Rapper, 21 Savage and More File Brief with Supreme Court in First Amendment Case

Rappers team up to provide context in Supreme Court case over lyrical "terrorism"; House of Representatives debate Nickelback hate; New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio flaps his arms to R. Kelly song in church

click to enlarge Chance The Rapper at Red Rocks in 2017 - PHOTO: JULIO ENRIQUEZ (CC BY 2.0)
Photo: Julio Enriquez (CC by 2.0)
Chance The Rapper at Red Rocks in 2017

HOT: Supreme Education

Two very different arguments involving popular music have been playing out in the upper echelons of the U.S. government. Ahead of a First Amendment battle headed for the Supreme Court involving aspiring rapper Jamal Knox, who was sentenced to prison for “terroristic threats” and witness intimidation based solely on his song lyrics, a group of music heavyweights including Killer Mike, Chance the Rapper, 21 Savage and Meek Mill filed a brief with the court that offers an overview of Hip Hop’s lyrical traditions. To provide context, the brief explains how Hip Hop artists use “a full range of literary devices” and “rappers famously rely on exaggeration and hyperbole.” The brief also says the artists often “lace their lyrics with dense slang and coded references that defy easy interpretation, especially among listeners unfamiliar with the genre.” Read the full brief here

WARM: Debating Hating Nickelback

Meanwhile, poor Nickelback (seriously, can we stop picking on Nickelback?) was dragged back through the mud and into the public record due to a playful debate in the U.S. House of Representatives in which Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan tried to make a point about an issue that had low public support by saying the percentage was akin to “the percent of people who think Nickelback is their favorite band.” Republican Rep. Rodney Davis’ later rebuttal asked, “Why would you criticize one of the greatest bands of the ’90s?” to which Pocan joked, “Wow. One more reason why there is a difference between Democrats and Republicans, clearly, found on the floor of Congress today.”

COLD: Flying Out of the Running?

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio found himself in an awkward position during a visit to South Carolina, where he was reportedly testing the waters for a 2020 presidential run. De Blasio was attending a church service where, for some reason, a choir was singing R. Kelly’s hit “I Believe I Can Fly.” The pastor encouraged everyone to flap their arms along to the song by the singer facing accusations of grotesque sexual abuse and video showed De Blasio clumsily obliging. Of course, we are in a post-“grab them by the pussy” world now, so De Blasio will probably be our next president, with Kelly as VP.




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