As We See It

Rappers beware: Your lyrics can be used against you in court

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This time, it’s not art. It’s evidence. Last week the Nevada Supreme Court ruled to uphold the first-degree murder conviction of Nevada rapper Deyundrea “Khali” Holmes, who appealed because a song he wrote while in jail was allowed as evidence.

That aptly titled song, “Drug Deala,” was found by the court to be very specific to the crime he was convicted of—the 2003 robbery and murder of Kevin “Mo” Nelson. Despite Holmes’ argument that he was just riffing on standard rap clichés, the court disagreed.

It’s not the first time rappers have been taken to task—and to prison—for their violent lyrics. In 2006, wannabe rapper Ronell Wilson was convicted of murdering two undercover police officers. While he never got a record deal, Wilson’s raps, scribbled in notebooks, were presented as evidence.

Holmes’ defense poses an intriguing question: Would most rappers rather be remembered as a felon ... or a hack?

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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