Skip to main content

CBA Lecture: Art, not evidence: Rap in court

Wednesday 13th December

18.00 – 19.00


Introduction: Paul Jarvis (6KBW College Hill) – CBA Education Joint Chair.

Speaker: Dr Abenaa Owusu-Bempah is Associate Professor of Law, London School of Economics

Rap music is increasingly used as evidence in criminal trials, despite often having no connection to the crime alleged. More specifically, the act of writing, performing, or even engaging with rap music, is treated as evidence of, among other things, motive, intention, or propensity for criminal behaviour. This is particularly prevalent in ‘joint enterprise’ and conspiracy cases where the music is used to support a racialised ‘gang’ narrative. This talk will explore the admissibility and use of rap music in English criminal trials. It will detail the profile of ‘rap cases’, challenge the categorisation of rap as ‘bad character evidence’ and the use of police officers as rap experts. It will also critique the way in which questions of relevance and prejudicial effect have been addressed and identify factors to consider when determining the relevance of rap. Finally, it will present a case for law reform to restrict the admissibility of creative expression as evidence in criminal proceedings.

Dr Abenaa Owusu-Bempah is Associate Professor of Law, London School of Economics. Her scholarship focuses on criminal procedure, the law of evidence and criminal law, with a particular emphasis on fair trial rights. She is author of the book, Defendant Participation in the Criminal Process (2017, Routledge).


Event only:

Silk £0.00
+7 Years £0.00
-7 Years £0.00
Pupil £0.00
Non Member £0.00

Booking options

You need to login to book this event online.