Rappers Chris Brown and Drake may suddenly have more in common than just their rumored romantic rivalry over Rihanna and a lucrative career-enhancing beef: In a new essay, Professor Caleb Mason predicts that now that the bottles have stopped flying, both have evidence boomerangs still flying in their direction as a result of their own song lyrics.
A sample: There’s times when I might blow like 50k on a vacation /For all my soldiers just to see the looks on all they faces… I got a lot of friends to come up off the strip for me/The same ones that’ll come up off the hip for me” [Drake, “Crew Love”]
Lyrics like these propelled hit songs, paid for a top-shelf nightclub outing that ended in a bloody face-off between the two stars — and now they may now be coming back to haunt them.
“How many people call their friends ‘my soldiers?’ ” Mason argues. “And doesn’t ‘come up off the hip’ mean ‘pull a gun?’ ”
Back on June 14, some combination of Brown (who was in court on Monday in Los Angeles for a probation hearing), Drake and their entourages got in to a bottle-throwing melee at Club W.i.P. in New York City with expensive and immediate fallout including:
- The NYPD immediately shut down the club.
- New York authorities began considering new regulation of the the multimillion-dollar Manhattan bottle-service industry.
- Civilians began releasing public statements as soon as the next morning complaining about perceived celebrity immunity; and
- NBA star Tony Parker filed a $20 million lawsuit against the club
With all of these clamoring claimants, this pair of deep-pocketed young superstars may prove to be liability-magnets in civil and criminal contexts. Prof. Mason (Colby, Ph.D. Columbia, J.D. Georgetown Law), whose tear-down on Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” made national headlines this summer, has held forth anew on hip-hop culture and the law and reprising, accordingly, the online attention. Mason flexes his trial expertise to explain why Brown’s and Drake’s own lyrics from their hits might survive the gantlet of the Federal Rules of Evidence and be admissible against them in prospective litigation. The article, which may soon appear on TheCrimeReport.com, “Drake v. Chris Brown: Song Lyrics and the Rules of Evidence When Life Imitates Art” (link forthcoming) speaks to both lay and legal audiences.
Mason raises, among other possibilities, a professional embarrassment lurking beneath any evidentiary challenge: The rappers may be forced to tell under oath who writes their songs, with the potential admission that they do not; this would occur if they seek to challenge the authentication of the lyrics, a necessary step in qualifying contested evidence.
For the record, the author of this post is a teaching assistant for Mason’s evidence class and a fan. Mason did not contribute to nor consult on this post.
Photo Illustration Images: Nightclub Atmosphere (TMZ.com), Chris Brown vs. Drake (RunTheBlock.com), Professor Caleb Mason (Southwestern Law School)