‘Rappers may have it over judges,’ says Lord Neuberger after listening to Jay Z‏

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By Thomas Connelly on

Judicial bombshell — Supreme Court supremo Lord Neuberger has been listening to Brooklyn’s star hip-hop and gangsta geezer


Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger, 67, has confessed to listening to arguably the world’s number-one rapper, Brooklyn-born bling-merchant Jay Z (for the uninitiated, pronunciation rhymes with fee, as in fee note).

At the end of a lengthy speech entitled “Magna Carta and the Holy Grail”, arguably the UK’s top judge took an unexpected turn by making references to the rapper, who is also Mr Beyoncé Knowles.

Neuberger claims his judicial assistant Hugh Cumber (no sniggering at the back) introduced him to the world of Jay Z — real name Shawn Carter — pointing out to the judge that in 2013 the rapper had released an album called “Magna Carta Holy Grail”.


Neuberger explained how he listened to the album that includes colourful tracks such as “Fuck with me you know I got it”, “Tom Ford” and “Nickles and Dimes.” Legal Cheek can only speculate as to whether Neuberger dusted off the Supreme Court gramophone for this piece of judicial research.

Digesting the lyrics and even paying a visit to Mr Z’s Wikipedia page, Neuberger confesses that he still doesn’t fully understand why the album is named after the 1215 charter. Struggling to find the connection, Neuberger suggests “when it comes to subtle allusions, rap-singers may have it over judges”.

Neuberger goes on to draw comparisons between Jay Z’s critics and the squabbling between historians and lawyers over the history of Magna Carta. Only last month a live-on-air cat-fight broke out on Radio 4 between historian David Starkey and Doughty Street Chambers’ Helena Kennedy QC, which resulted in them both yelling over each other.

Neuberger suggested in his speech — made two days ago to an audience of lawyers and the general public at Lincoln’s Inn — that the inability of music critics to agree on whether Jay Z’s album is in fact any good is similar to historians and lawyers being unable to agree on the modern impact and influence of Magna Carta.

Tenuous, perhaps, but Legal Cheek applauds the effort. Not least as the judge wanders off on a musing about the contemporary importance of the myth of Magna Carta.

“There is a need for myth,” he told the Lincoln’s Inn crowd. “Myth simplifies, personalises, it fills in gaps, it justifies and it engages … Myth gives coherence and justifies for rules and events which otherwise appear random and unfair.”

In a side note to the speech, the anally retentive branch of the legal profession will be interested to note that Neuberger at least once in the speech broke the cardinal rule regarding the definite article and Magna Carta.

But if getting to the top of the judicial greasy pole doesn’t afford some privileges, then what’s the point?

Read the speech in full below:

Lord Neuberger