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Rap lyrics a focus in artist Ludacris??? child custody case

When parents are at odds over child custody, the matter is often brought before a family court. These hearings can become incredibly heated, and parents will use any and all leverage they can muster in order to gain the ability to obtain or retain their child custody rights. Many Pennsylvania readers have heard of the custody battle between rapper Ludacris and the mother of his daughter, which recently went before a judge.

The case attracted a significant amount of media attention due to the fact that the father's professional life was brought up in court. Within his musical career, Ludacris makes use of lyrics that many find to be offensive. During the child custody hearing, an attorney for the child's mother brought up the meaning behind the song "Dancing Dirty," in which Ludacris speaks of plying a woman with alcohol in order to get her to "let down all her defenses" before taking her to bed.

While on the stand, Ludacris was asked if the song promotes date rape, to which he answered that the song is simply about having fun. He was then asked whether he would like his daughter, who is now 13 months old, to have a similar experience when she is older. He replied that when his daughter is an adult, she will have the right to have fun as she chooses.

The judge was seemingly untroubled by the lyrics, as the result of the hearing was Ludacris being awarded primary custody of his daughter. This has been viewed as a win for both fathers' rights and the right to free expression. Many in Pennsylvania and elsewhere feel strongly that a musician's right to artistic expression is not an indication of his or her personal beliefs or practices, and this child custody case seems to support that point of view.

Source: Creative Loafing Atlanta, "Ludacris' rap lyrics put on trial in custody battle", Rodney Carmichael, Jan. 30, 2015

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