Despite hip-hop being the most dominant music genre in the United States, the culture still doesn’t seem to garner the same respect or leniency as other genres in the industry. In fact, the criminal justice department is still using rappers’ lyrics against them. Dallas-based rapper NaNa experienced this firsthand when he was sentenced to 12 years in prison based on his “violent” lyrics. The problem is, NaNa was charged for a nonviolent crime.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn gave NaNa – whose real name is Nykees Earl Campbell – the 12-year sentence on July 18, Dallas News reports. Judge Lynn used his lyrics as references to crimes the rapper was suspected of committing. “You’re bragging about shooting a person,” Judge Lynn said in court. “It’s violence times 10 at every phase.”
While NaNa’s lyrics alluded to violent crimes, the rapper was not facing charges for violence. He had plead guilty to cocaine distribution in Feb. 2018, and was supposed to be receiving sentencing for that charge. The rapper was originally facing a six-year prison sentence for the crime committed. The judge cited his lyrics, in which he talks about shooting someone in the face and committing a robbery, in order to justify handing out a harsher sentence despite the nonviolent charge.
As previously mentioned, judges and lawyers using lyrics against rappers is no foreign practice. In 2014, a prosecutor referenced Bobby Shmurda’s single “Hot N***a” in order to make their case against the rapper, who is currently sitting in prison on conspiracy and weapons possession charges.
NaNa’s attorney reportedly said that the judge has no other evidence against the rapper besides the violent lyrics. It’s unclear whether his legal team will attempt to get the sentence reduced.