Is it art? Is it reality? Is it both?
That's often been the question surrounding rap lyrics -- particularly those depicting violence -- for years. Now, how that question is interpreted by the legal system could determine whether one California rapper does serious jail time.
Tiny Doo, born Brandon Duncan, is facing attempted murder charges, along with 14 other reported gang members, according to ABC's San Diego affiliate.
The rapper himself hasn't been linked to any shootings -- there are nine since April of last year being looked at -- and he doesn't have a criminal record, but he could do life behind bars based on a little-used 14-year-old law. That law, as reported by ABC, "allows for the prosecution of gang members if they benefit from crimes committed by other gang members." Prosecutors are alleging that Tiny Doo was able to increase sales -- including the sales of his last project, No Safety -- because of an association with the gang.
"We're not just talking about a CD of anything, of love songs," Deputy District Attorney Anthony Campagna said. "We're talking about a CD [cover]...there is a revolver with bullets."
The rapper's lawyer, though, disagrees.
"It's shocking," Brian Watkins said. "He has no criminal record. Nothing in his lyrics say go out and commit a crime. Nothing in his lyrics reference these shootings, yet they are holding him liable for conspiracy. There are huge Constitutional issues."
This isn't the first time that rap lyrics have been brought inside the courtroom. Recent examples include in 2000, when a rapper was acquitted in a case where his lyrics were used against him, as well as this year, when the rapper Ra Diggs wasn't so fortunate, and was found guilty of three counts of murder in a trial where his lyrics were used.
As for Tiny Doo, the hearing where a judge will rule whether or not charges will move forward was set to resume on Monday (November 17).