Rap on Trial

Barbara S. Giordano
8 min readJun 4, 2020

by Charis Kubrin, PhD and Barbara Seymour Giordano

Have you ever been given a set of facts, and based on that evidence, come to a conclusion that made you believe you were absolutely right?

A few years back a defense attorney contacted me to ask if I would be an expert witness in a case involving an aspiring rapper who had been charged with making a terrorist threat. This would be my first official expert witness case — so I jumped at the chance! And as a Professor of Criminology as well as a Rap Music Scholar I could hardly wait to share my expertise.

So as soon as I received the evidence, I immediately got to work. Now, the entire case came to trial as a result of these 6 short lines of text — and here’s how they read:

glock to the head of

SEND $2 to . . . paypal account

if this account doesn’t reach $50,000 in the next

7 days then a murderous rampage similar to the

VT shooting will occur at another prestigious

highly populated university. THIS IS NOT A JOKE!

OK, admittedly these words sitting on the page all by their lonesome make it pretty darn easy to jump to a conclusion about what this rapper was up to, right? And I’ve got to admit that when I read these words for the first time, even my gut reaction was — this guy is so guilty!

But I knew from my years of research that you can’t pass judgment until all the evidence has been…



Barbara S. Giordano

Three-time award winning speechwriter. Beyond writing I enjoy photography, gardening, hiking, reading and our kitties. storyworksla.com