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Rap on Trial


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About the Author

Erik Nielson is an associate professor of liberal arts at the University of Richmond, where he teaches courses on African American literature and hip-hop culture. He lives in Richmond, Virginia, and Brooklyn, New York. Andrea L. Dennis is a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law and was formerly an assistant federal public defender. She lives in Athens, Georgia.


Praise for Rap on Trial:
Named one of the "15 Great Hip-Hop Books Published in 2019" by Okplayer "[An] interesting and educational read."
—The Philadelphia Sun "Rap on Trial is comprehensive‚ groundbreaking‚ and fundamental to understanding how the justice system targets black artistry; most remarkable is its repeated insistence on praxis as analysis."
—New Black Man (in Exile) "A thoroughly researched book and a riveting read, Rap on Trial sheds light on a highly damaging practice that has become an everyday occurrence in America's courtrooms."
—The National Book Review "A compelling call to action in this overview of the use of rap music in criminal trials. . . . This book is a necessary first step in ending a racist and unjust legal practice."

"An urgent call to action. Recommended for anyone concerned with social justice."
—Library Journal

"Rap on Trial offers captivating insight on how police, prosecutors, and judges silence and penalize Black music artists. It provides not only a rousing call to action but also a compelling blueprint for necessary change."
—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

"By highlighting race in this brilliant, well-researched argument, Rap On Trial takes its rightful place within the pantheon of groundbreaking works that unmask the built-in biases of our legal systems."
—Michael Eric Dyson, author of Jay-Z: Made in America

"An illuminating, powerful, and disturbing exposé of how hip hop's often raw, fantastical lyrics are taken out of context to criminalize black and brown youth. Rap on Trial is required reading for anyone who cares about justice and racial equity."
—Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

"An exceptional, nuanced look at how the state transformed an influential art form into a tool of mass incarceration. Rap on Trial is an essential reminder of the importance of First Amendment protections for the most vulnerable among us."
—Anthony D. Romero, executive director, ACLU

"Nielson and Dennis have blessed us with a smart and engaging book that will make readers mad as hell. An essential read for activists, artists, hip hop heads, and all concerned about civil rights and civil liberties, Rap on Trial does it 'for the culture.'"
—Paul Butler, author of Chokehold: Policing Black Men

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