Pittsburgh rapper, Jamal Knox, is currently serving a two-year jail sentence after Pittsburgh authorities deemed his song “F***k the Police” a threat to the safety of police officers.
The line which got him in trouble goes, “let’s kill these cops cause they don’t do us no good.”
But his colleagues are standing up for him and fighting for his freedom.
The group of rappers, consisting of Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Chance The Rapper, Yo Gotti and Fat Joe, sent a document to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, in hopes it will consider reviewing Knox’s case, and offering to give a “primer on rap music and hip-hop”.
The document reads:
A person unfamiliar with what today is the nation’s most dominant musical genre or one who hears music through the auditory lens of older genres such as jazz, country or symphony may mistakenly interpret a rap song as a true threat of violence.
After being arrested in 2012 on gun and drug charges, Knox found himself once again in the hands of authorities due to the lyrics of his song. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed Knox’s conviction was just, and that The First Amendment – freedom of speech – does not protect all speech.
In a petition seeking review, Knox’s lawyers wrote that the song lyrics were “never meant to be read as bare text on a page, rather, the lyrics were meant to be heard, with music, melody, rhythm and emotion.”
But Knox’s appeal was denied, so the coalition of rappers stepped in. They hope that Knox’s song will be better understood as an expression of his art, and his rap persona, rather than something punishable by law.