• La Raza Pre-Law Student Association

3/19 - Should Rap Music be Censored?


This week, Cardi-B and Megan Thee Stallion performed in the annual Grammy Awards with the WAP song (I won't spell it out completely). Some people, including those on mainstream news outlets, such as Fox News, criticized Cardi B's performance. One of those who criticized the performance of Cardi was Conservative political commentator Candace Owens, which she called "an attack on American values and traditions." The two got back and forth, which both threatened legal action against each other. The Grammy Performance by Cardi Brought me a question I have long wanted to answer, which is whether rap music should be censored? This journal aims not to discuss the feud of Cardi B but to look at whether or not Rap Music should be censored or not?


Rap music has been part of mainstream music since the '90s. Rappers that made it into the mainstream were N.W.A (N****s with attitude), Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Eminem, and much more. Rap music was popular with all of the social echelons of the United States. As rap music became a popular music industry, rappers have/had been subject to scrutiny by politicians due to lyrics that contain "misogyny" and "homophobia." For example, Republican politicians in both the senate and the house (Lynne Cheyney ~ wife of US V.P Dick Cheney) pleaded to the FCC to censor Eminem's music since it "promotes violence of the most degrading kind against women." That same year, politicians in Australia and Canada also pleaded to the current governments to ban Eminem from their respective countries. While censuring Eminem did not work, the debate of censoring Rap music came in numerous cases in the US federal district courts.

Cases relating to Rap Music:

There have been numerous cases related to Rap Music that have sneaked into the state and federal courts. One of the first cases relating to rap music was the Skyywalker Records v. Navarro (1990), where the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that an album by the rap group 2 Live Crew was not legally obscene. The rationale behind this decision was that the music has artistic value, even though the album is filled with profanity and misogynistic language. Because of it, the miller test that determines whether speech is obscene was not applied. However, in a recent case in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Knox, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the defendant's conviction since the defendant made songs that contained phrases that called for violence towards the police. The rationale that the PA Court used to rule this specific way was the Miller Test. Since the lyrics contained violent phrases, the song had a lack of artistic value, and therefore the first amendment did not protect the defendant from a criminal conviction. This brings us to the question, should congress determine what type of music is appropriate or not?


While I may find Cardi B's and Megan Thee Stallion Grammy's performance a bit inappropriate, I do not believe that congress should censor rap music, especially songs that might be viewed as obscene. The first reason why congress should not censor rap music is it will prevent critical thinking amongst individuals hearing songs that might contain obscene lyrics. Parents should be able to teach their children what is considered inappropriate, not the government. And the second and most important reason is that rap censorship is a clear violation of the first amendment. If censorship is the law, it will set a precedence for censoring music that might contain "anti-government" lyrics. For example, in Spain, a rapper from Catalonia Pablo Hassel was arrested for "insulting" the Spanish Monarchy and supporting "terrorism." This is the last thing that the United States needs, censoring lyrics that might disagree with the government. But I would consider censoring music that would call for violence. However, rap music lyrics always contain double entendre that people will interpret differently. I do not believe that Congress should censor rap music, but parents should teach their children what music is inappropriate.

Works Cited:

  1. Cardi B Shuts Down Critics Who Compared "WAP" Performance To Dr. Seuss Being "Cancelled"

  2. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion served up a very sex-positive performance

  3. Australia wants to ban Eminem

  4. Eminem Targeted At Senate Hearing

  5. Rap Music and the First Amendment | The First Amendment Encyclopedia

  6. Luke Records v. Navarro (11th Cir.) | The First Amendment Encyclopedia

  7. High court declines to take Pennsylvania rap artist's case

  8. In Spain, Rapper's Arrest Over Controversial Tweets Sparks Days Of Protests

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