In what looks to be the first case of an artist being jailed for making a record, California rapper C-BO was arrested Tuesday night on charges that his lyrics violate the terms of his parole.
As we first reported last month (see "Rapper's Lyrics May Violate Parole"), those conditions dictated that he "not engage in any behavior which promotes the gang lifestyle, criminal behavior, and/or violence towards law enforcement." Spokespeople at the California Department of Corrections contend that the rapper's lyrics manage to violate all of those conditions, which they say the rapper agreed to upon his release from prison last summer after a weapons conviction.
C-BO has since unsuccessfully appealed the condition three times, and his supporters say the parole condition is a violation of his right to free speech.
"What's he supposed to do for a living... jack cars... sell drugs?" the rapper's publicist, Phyllis Pollack asked
"This is about art, not criminal activity," Pollack concluded.
So far, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which has been keeping an eye on the case, agrees calling the parole condition quote, "highly unusual and very disturbing."
"Rap is a very important and protected form of political expression," Elaine Elinson, an ACLU lawyer who has been following the case told MTV News.
"It's hard to see the relationship between expressing one's political views and firing a firearm."
Others see it rather clearly. Tip Kindell, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections, told MTV News that the vividness of C-BO's lyrics constitutes a "direct link" to criminal activity, and that his new songs, in which he "chooses to disregard" the terms of his parole, can be seen as "a return to criminal activities."
Authorities say that C-BO's lyrics threaten specific political leaders as well as the police in general, like
on the track "Deadly Game" on which C-BO raps, "You better swing, batter, batter swing/'Cause once you get your third felony,/Yeah, 50 years you gotta bring/It's a deadly game of baseball/So when they try to pull you over/shoot 'em in the face, ya'll."
The board of corrections says that C-BO could face a maximum of one year in jail if he is found guilty of violating his parole. Spokespeople for the rapper say that he plans to appeal the arrest.
Meanwhile, C-BO has scored at least one victory; his "Till My Casket Drops" debuts at number 41 on next week's "Billboard" album chart.