ON DECK: Rap Music on Trial Feature Doc From Paramount+

Paramount+ is set to stream a feature-length documentary As We Speak: Rap Music on Trial, An exploration of the weaponization of rap lyrics in the US criminal justice system.

The documentary follows rap artist Kemba as he journeys through meccas of hip-hop, building the case for rap lyrics and black artist protection via intimate conversations with rappers, academics, politicians, legal experts, and music industry executives.

The documentary will stream exclusively on Paramount+ beginning Feb. 27 in the United States and Canada, and Feb. 28 in the United Kingdom, Australia, Latin America, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.



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 Music on Trial,” director J.M. Harper said in a statement. “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.