ArticlesVolume 38, No. 1 (2014)

Rap Music and the True Threats Quagmire: When Does One Man’s Lyric Become Another’s Crime?

This Article examines the complex and unsettled state of the true threats doctrine through the lens of the equally complicated, controversial and multi- faceted musical genre of rap. Rap, although generally protected by the First Amendment, is frequently caught in the crosshairs of criminal prosecutions focusing on whether or not it constitutes a true threat of violence. Ultimately, this Article offers suggestions for how to clarify the doctrinal issues, with rap illustrating and supporting those ideas.