Published Jul 01, 2015Can the contents of a music video be considered a criminal threat? Apparently yes, according to Ontario Court Justice Lucia Favret, who found Mississauga rapper Avalanche the Architect guilty of threatening to cause bodily harm in his video for the track "Got Yourself a Gun."
The target of the song was show promoter Sonia Harry, who allegedly bumped the rapper — known legally as Darren John — from a Ottawa bill in May of 2012. Avalanche the Architect then used photos from her Facebook page in the "Got Yourself a Gun" video, and Harry testified that she thought the song's lyrics were directed towards her. She specifically took exception to passages about rape, murder and prostitution.
"I find those images and those words were meant to intimidate and be taken seriously," Favret decided yesterday (June 30), dismissing the argument that the video was artistic expression rather than a threat. Making matters worse for Avalanche, he apparently made made phone calls and wrote angry texts to Harry.
The trial began in December of 2013, and the rapper represented himself for much of it. He didn't take the stand in his own defence, however, and presented no evidence. He claimed that, although he made the song, he didn't actually make the video or put it online himself. Furthermore, he claimed that the lyrics were directed towards fellow rapper Scotian Sparxx. "I was engaged in a rap battle. This is artistic expression between two musicians," he said in an interview [via Toronto Star].
He intends to appeal the verdict and will make an abuse-of-process application.
Although Avalanche was found guilty of threatening to cause bodily harm, the trial wasn't all bad news for the rapper: he was found not guilty of criminal harassment and threatening death. Still, this is bound to serve as a cautionary tale for musicians whose real-life feuds spill over into their music.