Rapper B.G.’s Future Song Lyrics Must Be Reviewed by the U.S. Government, Judge Rules (2024)

The judge in the case struck down prosecutors' attempt to prohibit the rapper, who was arrested in March while on probation, "from promoting and glorifying future gun violence/murder" in his music.

Rapper B.G.’s Future Song Lyrics Must Be Reviewed by the U.S. Government, Judge Rules (1)

When New Orleans rapper B.G. came home in September after serving an 11-year sentence following his guilty plea on two counts of possession of a firearm and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, the rap community rejoiced. He’s the man responsible for entering the phrase “bling-bling” into the pop culture lexicon, after all.

But following his release, the founding member of ’90s rap group Hot Boys is facing an unusual legal request: to provide the U.S. Probation Office with a copy of the lyrics to his upcoming songs before producing and promoting them.


Why Proposed Laws to Stop the Criminalization of Rap Lyrics Don't Go Far Enough (GuestColumn)07/01/2024

Handed down by U.S. district court judge Susie Morgan, the decision — which requires B.G. to submit the lyrics for review but does not bar him from releasing new music — came several months after B.G. (real name Christopher Dorsey) was arrested in March for performing at a Las Vegas concert alongside rapper Lil Boosie; apparently, B.G. needed prior permission from the court to associate with acts that also have felony convictions on their record, as Lil Boosie does. The probation officer in the case also cited B.G.’s work with Gucci Mane, another rapper/convicted felon with whom B.G. released a collaborative mixtape, Choppers & Bricks, in December.

B.G. was subsequently released on his own recognizance pending the judge’s decision. Shortly after, the rapper expressed his frustration in an Instagram post, saying in part, “It’s crazy how after paying my debt to society with 12 and a half years of my life I come home and still ain’t free…I been doing everything the right way and it seems like that ain’t enough.”

At a court hearing on June 18, B.G. and prosecutors confirmed they had reached a deal to modify the conditions of the rapper’s supervised release following his March arrest but “disagreed” over the prosecutors’ request to prohibit the rapper “from promoting and glorifying future gun violence/murder” in his music and at his concerts, according to the June 28 ruling.

“The Defendant argues that the additional condition proposed by the Government is an unconstitutional prior restraint of speech that is an overly broad condition of supervised release,” the ruling reads.

The judge ultimately found that the prosecutors’ request to prohibit the content of B.G.’s music was “not sufficiently clear and specific to serve as a guide for the Defendant’s conduct and for those entrusted with his supervision,” instead imposing a special condition that B.G. provide the probation office “with a copy of the lyrics of any song he writes,” according to the ruling. All lyrics B.G. shares with the probation office will be passed to the U.S. government, which can then file a motion with the court if it decides his “conduct is inconsistent with the goals of rehabilitation,” the ruling continues, though it does not give the government approval power over his new music.

In a statement provided to Billboard, B.G.’s attorneys David Chesnoff, William P. Gibbens and Michael L. Reinert said, “In the continued spirit of goodwill and cooperation with the government that Mr. Dorsey has maintained since his release, he has agreed to simply submit his lyrics to the government for their information. As part of the Court Order, if the government wants to take any further action against Mr. Dorsey, it may file a motion to show cause why there should be any further modification of Mr. Dorsey’s Supervised Release. However, nothing in the Court’s Order requires Mr. Dorsey to obtain approval from the government of his lyrics as he records or performs them.

“Mr. Dorsey took a very principled and determined stand against any infringement on his First Amendment rights and to maintain his artistic integrity, and also the integrity of all artists who are subject to potential censorship,” the statement continues. “We are very grateful to the Court for upholding this bedrock principal of freedom of expression, and Mr. Dorsey will continue to contribute to society as a constructive and creative member of the community.”

The ruling is certain to cause controversy at a time when the practice of lyrics being used against rappers in criminal court has become a hot-button issue. In November, a judge ruled that Young Thug‘s lyrics can be used during his YSL RICO case, saying that “the First Amendment is not on trial.” Bobby Shmurda and the late Drakeo the Ruler have also had their lyrics used against them in criminal cases. There have since have been laws passed and proposed on both the state and federal levels to stop the criminalization of rap lyrics; in September, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a statute restricting the practice, while similar laws have been proposed in New York and the U.S. House of Representatives.

UPDATE: This story was updated on July 3 at 11:59 a.m. ET to add a statement from B.G.’s attorneys and clarify that the U.S. government does not have approval power over B.G.’s new music.

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