Giggs urges support for Art Not Evidence campaign to end the use of rap lyrics in court

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Giggs has shared a new statement urging fans to support the Art Not Evidence campaign, which aims to stop the use creative and artistic expression (such as lyrics and music videos) as evidence in criminal trials.

Speaking on Instagram, Giggs reflects on his own experience with his lyrics being referenced in court when facing a firearm charge back in 2012. He alleges that the prosecution had “no evidence” and the case was constructed around his lyrics.

After spending seven months in prison, the South London rapper was found innocent in late 2012 and released from custody.

As The Guardian reported at the time, Giggs was stopped by police in a black Ford Focus in South London. The vehicle was searched and inside was found a semi-automatic Browning gun with a bullet in the breach and the safety off.

In court, the gun’s owner pleaded guilty however the prosecution quoted the lyrics of Giggs’ tracks as evidence that he was affiliated with gun crime.

Giggs and his music career had previously been a target of the Met Police. In 2009, the force contacted XL Recordings in an attempt to dissuade the label from signing him.

Read this next: “Growth in everything”: Giggs, UK rap’s most influential MC, is still building

Now, over decade after he was acquitted of that firearm charge, Giggs has posted a video to Instagram sharing, “evidence in court should be 100% facts” urging his followers to support the campaign and open letter, Art Not Evidence.

“This is judging if someone is going to face life in prison or even just one day,” he explains.

“Rap music or art is not always 100% facts. You can’t prove something is 100% facts from listening to a song.”

Giggs goes on to link this to his 2011 track ‘Wolf’ which he refers to in his caption as part of the reason he was sent to court in 2012.

His caption reads: “In 2012 i spent 7 months on remand in HMP Belmarsh for a firearms charge for a crime i did not commit with no evidence against me at all.

“The trial became all about my lyrics. This is ONE of the reasons why i am extremely passionate about this, I have lived /experienced/seen it first hand.”

Read this next: Giggs slams Piers Morgan following his stop and search comments

Launched in 2022, Art Not Evidence is bidding to curb the prejudicial use of rap lyrics and music videos as evidence in UK court rooms and already has support from the likes of lawyers, academics, journalists as well as artists such as Annie Mac and Digga D.

Also in 2022, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that drill music videos could officially be used as evidence of affiliation in court

Prosecutors can consider whether appearing in a drill music video together with another co-defendant of crime is vital evidence of association which could be used in court.

Read this next: US bill aiming to ban lyrics being used as criminal evidence reintroduced to congress

Elli Brazzill, founder of Art Not Evidence told Mixmag: “We are elated and so appreciative of Giggs for speaking out, hearing from those with lived experience is absolutely essential and the power of a personal story from such a musical legend can’t be understated.

“We need more artists to do the same, and not just rappers, but artists from all genres to stand up against institutional racism and say no, this is ART, and it’s ludicrous that it’s used so commonly as evidence.”

Brazzill continues: “We urge artists and labels to get in touch if they want to know more, and for anyone reading this to add their name to our open letter to show the government how much support there is for this campaign.”

Take a look at Giggs’ full statement below and find out more about Art Not Evidence here.

Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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