'As We Speak' Unveils Disturbing Legal Trend Rooted in Racism

  • January 24, 2024
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The Sundance premiere of "As We Speak" marked the directorial debut for J.M. Harper, who worked as editor on last year's "jeen-yuhs: A Kanye West Trilogy." 

For "As We Speak," Harper joins forces with Bronx-born rapper and activist Kemba to take viewers on a journey into the history of using Black artists' lyrics against them. Harper and Kemba cite the widely publicized ongoing Young Thug trial — where the lyrics of the Grammy-winning artist are being used as evidence to support the accusation that he co-founded the Young Slime Life criminal gang — as a motivating factor for making this project happen quickly. 

The documentary sees Kemba travel through major cities in the U.S. and overseas to London to interview artists, lawyers and academians to help viewers understand the issue, how its perpetuated by systemic racism and why these artists hardly have a chance to win a trial when the lyrics are being used as criminal evidence — whether they are innocent or not. 

Harper and Kemba spoke to KRCL via Zoom ahead of the film's Sundance premiere to talk about the film and what they hope to achieve through it.