After hearing a recording of a rap performance proffered by the People, the County Court admitted into evidence a transcript of lyrics from that performance, which had been written by the defendant or members of the gang with which the defendant was affiliated, and described crimes that the gang members committed or were going to commit. The Appellate Division held that admission of this evidence did not warrant reversal.
To the extent that the defendant argues that the admission into evidence of the law enforcement witnesses' testimony was "prejudicial," any such prejudice must be balanced against the relevance of the testimony. The lyrics themselves were relevant to the issue of the defendant's consciousness of guilt (see People v. Wallace, 59 AD3d 1069, 1070), and both the lyrics and the testimony of the law enforcement witnesses concerning their understanding of the meaning of those lyrics were relevant to defendant's knowledge and intent (see United States v. Foster, 939 F2d 445, 455). Similarly, the testimony concerning the structure of the gang to which the defendant belonged, as well as his place in the gang hierarchy, was relevant to the context of the lyrics composed by the defendant and those found in his bedroom, and explained the relationship between the defendant and his coconspirators, along with their motives and intent (see People v. Cherry, 46 AD3d 1234, 1237; People v. Faccio, 33 AD3d 1041, 1042). Under the circumstances of this case, the relevance of this challenged evidence more than outweighed the potential prejudice to the defendant and, hence, the evidence was properly admitted over any objection based on prejudice (see People v. Russo, 81 AD3d 666, 667-668)