The purpose of this Article is to add to the volume of scholarly work in the area of First Amendment protections for rap artists who create so called “diss” songs aimed at disrespecting their competitors and their possible liabilities for such songs. It is evident that rap music has become a permanent part of popular music, and as the market grows smaller and competition gets tougher rap artists must find new ways to break into the industry and stay relevant. One of the ways rap artist do this is by creating a controversy with other, more established rappers. These tactics usually lead to a “beef” between rap artist, which many times lead to violence on the streets, either between the rappers, their entourage, or even fans. There have been many attempts to hold rap artist liable for violent or sexual explicit lyrical content most of which have failed. The primary reason for that failure is because courts have been reluctant to remove First Amendment protection for these works based on the Brandenburg Test. This Article addresses the immanency and foreseeability issues of both the Brandenburg Test for incitement of lawless action and the Fighting Words Exception within the framework of rap “beefs” and ‘dis” tracks. This article also analyzes the feasibility of regulation of songs that are commercial in nature under the Commercial Speech regulation. In order to aid in the analysis of these issues this article discusses the history of rap beef through rap battles, the marketability and media coverage of rap beef, types of “dis” songs, technological and social advances, and specific examples of beef between artists and their consequences.
- Brandenburg Test,
- Rap Music,
- Commercial Speech
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/andres_flores/1/