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Rap Lyrics on Trial Ethos, Pathos Logos: Essay

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“ Gangsta Rap “ was first introduced in the 1990s. Gangsta Rap is a product of life experiences that are accompanied by violence, guns, gangs, drug dealing, and drug abuse. In today’s world “Gangsta Rap” has a negative impact on society and may lead to corruption. Rap lyrics are sometimes used in courts, and many of them are treated in different ways. First, they are believed to be confessions of committing a crime. Second, if these lyrics are written before the crime then it is considered the intention of committing a crime. Third, they are the crime itself. A New York Times article “ Rap lyrics on trial “was published in January 2014 by Eric Nielson and Chris E. Kubin. The article introduces a case of a man called Vonte Skinner who was accused of shooting in 2005, using rap lyrics as evidence in court which was written by Skinner four years before accusing him of committing a crime. The purpose of the article is to illustrate that rap lyrics should not be taken as evidence in courts, and trials. Rap, because they are not a justification for committing a crime, they are misrepresented in courts and trials. Rhetoric, when used in rap or any other form of artistic expression, serves as a tool for creative communication rather than a direct endorsement or justification of criminal activities. It is crucial to approach these lyrics with an understanding of the nuances of rhetoric and its potential for artistic expression. By recognizing the distinction between rhetoric and actual criminal intent, we can ensure that rap lyrics are not misrepresented in courts and trials. The offer, when presented within this context, should become an organic addition to the discussion, fostering an appreciation for the artistry and impact of rap while addressing concerns regarding its potential misinterpretation.

First, the concept of using rap lyrics as evidence in courts should not be taken into consideration. Rappers believe that it is how they express their personality and their character. Through lyrics and beats that identify who they are. They also believe that it is a way of showing what they have lived throughout their past life. Commonly people do not understand the concept of rap lyrics, they see it from the outside and portray it as a way that can influence people to commit violence and crime. Using rap lyrics in courts as evidence is discriminatory to the rapper who writes about sexual abuse, killing, or violence because this does not mean that they really had experienced them. They may have seen this with their own eyes or someone from their family or friends were involved in some of these incidents. For instance, in the song “ Cleaning out my closet “ by Eminem. Eminem mentioned, “ Got some skeletons in my closet and I do not know if no one knows it “. The first thing that alarms us is that Eminem has a real body that he has hidden in his closet and nobody knows about it. People who do not understand this genre will first think that he committed a crime. But in fact, Eminem meant by these lyrics that he did not want to hide his past, according to Adam Mcdonald from the Jutsrandomthings website. He elaborates that there is a dark secret that the singer is hiding and before everyone thinks that he is a bad son and locks him in his grave he will expose skeletons which means he will admit what he has been hiding. This example conveys Pathos and Ethos because the singer has suffered from his past life and experienced it, through him being treated harshly by his mother, so throughout the years he felt pain from his mother’s treatment.

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Second, Ethos, people who do not understand this type of music will undoubtedly misunderstand the main message of the rappers. In the article “ Rap lyrics on trial “, Stuart Fischoff adopted a study in the late 1990s where he measured the impact of “ Gangsta rap “ on juries. Fischoff introduced them to a story of a black teenager that involved him being violent and sexually explicit in his rap lyrics, jurors immediately decided that this teenager might commit a crime. Basically, it seems that juries do not have any basic knowledge about this type of genre so their judgment was based on their being annoyed by the words used and the story of the song. Generally, people who are unknown with this genre think that these lyrics would affect teenagers negatively because of the violence in it so they consider them criminals, but in fact, most teenagers who are likely to listen to these types often understand what the symbols used in the lyrics and what the rappers want to depict to their audience. When lyrics are introduced in courts as evidence this is unfair to the defendants because prosecutors do not understand the message of the song so to conclude this sentence prosecutors will misrepresent these lyrics as they are aggressive lyrics and consider them as confessions to the crime. In the article “ Rap lyrics on trial, '' the authors proved their point of view ethically that rap lyrics should not be used in courts when they mentioned “ Nobody believes that johnny cash shot a man in Reno or that Bret Easton Ellis carried out the gory murders described in “American Psycho”: neither artist claimed that he was writing autobiographically. ``The same in Skinner’s trial the prosecutors presented his 13 pages lyrics without knowing the fact that he really wrote this as an incident that happened to him in real life or not.

Third, Logos, the article points out poor understanding on the part of the jurors because they convicted Skinner of this murder crime that he supposedly committed although, those thirteen pages he wrote were four years before the crime. As declared by the appellate court rap lyrics should not be used as evidence in the court; however, the jurors admitted the lyrics as evidence and thereby convicted skinner guilty of the crime. With all the evidence presented the Jurors put on heavy weight on the skinner’s color and unanimously believe that the skinner is capable of doing that hideous crime and convicting him is discriminatory.

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Rap Lyrics on Trial Ethos, Pathos Logos: Essay. (2023, April 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Rap Lyrics on Trial Ethos, Pathos Logos: Essay.” Edubirdie, 21 Apr. 2023,
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