I write in The Orange County Register today that blockbuster film Straight Outta Compton serves as a good reminder that gangsta rap is still protected First Amendment speech and it's time law enforcement stop treating it as a depiction of real life events:
The blockbuster film "Straight Outta Compton" dramatizes the emergence of Southern California rap group N.W.A. In 1988, the group's self-titled album popularized gangsta rap music with songs like "F— tha Police" and "Gangsta Gangsta," highlighting street life in gang-ridden South Central Los Angeles.
But in California, law enforcement still has rap in its cross-hairs. Charis Kubrin, a sociologist at UC Irvine, says California has produced an alarming number of prosecutions built on rap lyrics.
San Diego rapper Tiny Doo (Brandon Duncan) spent eight months in jail, accused of conspiring to commit a series of gang-related shootings. Duncan wasn't accused of planning, or being at, the shootings or of pulling the trigger. Rather, prosecutors claimed he willfully promoted and benefited from the shootings through his rap music, even though it was written well before the shootings.