Paramount+ has announced that the new feature-length documentary AS WE SPEAK: RAP MUSIC ON TRIAL, which had its world premiere screening at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, will stream exclusively on the service beginning Tuesday, February 27 in the U.S. and Canada and Wednesday, February 28 in the UK, Australia, Latin America, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Directed by J.M. Harper (jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy, Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma), the eye-opening documentary AS WE SPEAK: RAP MUSIC ON TRIAL follows Bronx rap artist Kemba as he explores the growing weaponization of rap lyrics in the United States criminal-justice system and abroad. His exploration reveals how law enforcement has quietly used artistic creation as evidence in criminal cases for decades.
Since the 1990s, more than 700 criminal court cases have used rap lyrics as evidence against defendants, and with the recent criminal trial of rapper Young Thug, this issue has become more mainstream and in the public eye. The film doesn’t ask whether someone is innocent or guilty; it asks whether lyrics can be used for conviction.
“It’s not every day a director gets to meet a once-in-a-generation rap artist like Kemba and then has the opportunity to spotlight him in a film like AS WE SPEAK: RAP ON TRIAL,” said director J.M. Harper. “The history of black lyrics on trial predates hip-hop by hundreds of years, and thanks to the crew at District 33, Park Pictures and Strike Anywhere, we found a way to bring the story of the music to life. The trust and support from our friends at Paramount+ truly enabled us to make this documentary from the artist’s point of view. We look forward to inspiring positive change in our broken criminal-justice system.”
AS WE SPEAK: RAP MUSIC ON TRIAL is directed and produced by J.M. Harper and produced by Sam Widdoes and Peter Cambor for District 33 and Sam Bisbee for Park Pictures. Executive producers include Ryan Simon for Strike Anywhere, Cody Ryder for Park Pictures, Bruce Gillmer and Amanda Culkowski for MTV Entertainment Studios, and Max Allman. The documentary made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22.
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