Fuck Tha Police
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Fuck Tha Police
"Fuck tha Police"
Song by N.W.A
from the album Straight Outta Compton
Released August 9, 1988
Recorded 1988
Genre
Length 5:43
Label
Straight Outta Compton
"Straight Outta Compton"
(1)
"Fuck tha Police"
(2)
"Gangsta Gangsta"
(3)
Audio sample

"Fuck tha Police" is a protest song by American rap group N.W.A that appears on the album Straight Outta Compton as well as on the N.W.A's Greatest Hits compilation. It was ranked number 417 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[1] Protesting police brutality and racial profiling, its lyrics express approval of violence against police.

Since its release in 1988, the "Fuck the Police" slogan continues to influence pop culture today in the form of T-shirts, artwork, and even transitions into other genres as seen in the cover versions by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Dope, Rage Against the Machine and Kottonmouth Kings (featuring Insane Clown Posse).[2][3]

Composition as depicted in the music video

"Fuck tha Police" parodies court proceedings inverting them by presenting Dr. Dre as a judge hearing a prosecution of the police department. Three members of the group, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and then Eazy-E, take the stand to "testify" before the judge as prosecutors. Through the lyrics, the rappers criticize the local police force. Two interludes present re-enactments of stereotypical racial profiling and police brutality.

By doing this, Dr. Dre takes the formalities of the judicial system and stands them on their head. He mocks the way that prosecuting attorneys use witnesses to prove their side of the story, while still respecting it, taking it on as his own way in allowing the MCs to state their cases in order to prove how the police department is focused on young black minorities, assuming that they are all drug dealers and are looking to rob or murder (see Criminal stereotype of African Americans). At the end, Dre finds the policeman guilty of being a "redneck, white bread, chickenshit motherfucker."

FBI letter

The song provoked the FBI to write to N.W.A's record company about the lyrics expressing disapproval and arguing that the song misrepresented police.[4][5]

In his autobiography Ruthless, Jerry Heller wrote that the letter was actually a rogue action by a "single pissed-off bureaucrat with a bully pulpit" named Milt Ahlerich, who was falsely purporting to represent the FBI as a whole and that the action "earned him a transfer to the Bureau's backwater Hartford office".[6] He also wrote that he removed all sensitive documents from the office of Ruthless Records in case of an FBI raid.[6]

In the FBI letter, Milt Ahlerich went on to reference "78 law enforcement officers" who were "feloniously slain in the line of duty during 1988" and that recordings such as those produced by N.W.A. "were both discouraging and degrading to these brave, dedicated officers". Ahlerich did not mention any N.W.A. song by name in the letter, but later confirmed he was referring to "Fuck The Police".[7]

Censorship

"Fuck the police" graffiti in Cairo, 2011

In 1989, Australian radio station Triple J had been playing "Fuck tha Police" (the only radio station in the world to do so)[8] for up to six months, before being banned by Australian Broadcasting Corporation management following a campaign by a South Australian Liberal senator.[9] As a reaction, the staff went on strike and put N.W.A's "Express Yourself" on continuous play for 24 hours, playing it roughly 360 times in a row.[10] It was revealed in 2005 that the scratch sound from that track was sampled for the Triple J news theme.[11]

On 10 April 2011, New Zealand dub musician Tiki Taane was arrested on charges of "disorderly behaviour likely to cause violence to start or continue" after performing the song at a gig in a club in Tauranga during an inspection of the club by the police.[12][13] On 13 April, Tiki told Marcus Lush on Radio Live that the lyrics often feature in his performances and his arrest came as a complete surprise.[14]

References by other artists and in popular culture

In 1996, during massive opposition street protests in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, "Fuck tha Police", along with Public Enemy's "Fight the Power", was continually played for 2 days on a Belgrade American-funded radio station, B92.

Dr. Dre makes a reference to this song on his 1999 single Forgot About Dre from his 2001 album with the line "Who you think brought you the oldies, Eazy-E's, Ice Cube's, and D.O.C.'s, the Snoop D.O. Double G's, and the group that said 'Motherfuck the police'?". He also made a more subtle reference to the song in his single Still D.R.E., where he states he's "Still not loving police."

Kanye West alludes to the song in his single "All Falls Down", "I say 'fuck the police', that's how I treat 'em". "Cop Killer", a song by Ice-T's metal band Body Count, also contains the lyrics "fuck the police", as does "Still No Surrender" by Bone Thugs N Harmony.

The Game references the song in his song, "Doctor's Advocate" off the album of the same name, expressing his shame of leaving Aftermath and going into beef with fellow rapper and former labelmate at the time 50 Cent: "I'm not askin' you to take my side in the beef, But you told me it was okay to say 'Fuck The Police.'"

Chris Rock specifically refers to the song in a sketch from The Chris Rock Show, How to not get your ass Kicked by the Police: "If you're listening to loud rap music ...turn that shit off! Blastin' "Fuck tha Police" while you're getting pulled over by the police is just ign'ant."

Never Say Fuck the Police by Crafterdark captures a pop culture meme in cross-stitched form that recalls the N.W.A. song.

Jason Mewes' character Jay sings the song after having an incident with the police in the 2001 movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

In 2007, English comedian Adam Buxton performed a 'cleaned up' version of the song, entitled 'Help the Police', as part of the BBC3 sketch show Rush Hour.

In 2008, Lil Wayne's hit single "Mrs. Officer" specifically referenced "Fuck tha Police," but in a much more literal sense (i.e., having sex with the police).

Also in 2008, James Franco yelled "fuck da police" in a scene during the movie Pineapple Express.

The song and group were parodied in the 1994 hip-hop mockumentary film Fear of a Black Hat and its soundtrack album, as a single for the fictional gangsta-rap group N.W.H. (Niggaz With Hats) as "Fuck the Security Guards."

The song is referenced in BWP's song "Wanted" from their 1991 album The Bytches.[15]

The song is prominently featured in the 2015 biopic of NWA, also called Straight Outta Compton.[16]

The song was satirically referenced in South Park's season 19 episode "Naughty Ninjas" when the townspeople are protesting the police.[17]

Cover versions

This song has proven popular, covered by various bands. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's version was added to the 20th anniversary edition of Straight Outta Compton.[18]

Charts

Chart (2015) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[19] 49
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[20] 97
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[21] 25

See also

References

  1. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". rollingstone.com. 2004-12-09. Archived from the original on 2008-06-22. Retrieved . 
  2. ^ "YouTube: Fuck tha Police (RATM cover)". Rage Against the Machine. Retrieved 2012. 
  3. ^ "F*ck tha Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015. 
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "AllMusic: NWA Biography". Retrieved 2012. 
  5. ^ Harrington, Richard. "The FBI as music critic". Washington Post. Retrieved 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Jerry Heller, Gil Reavill, 2006. Ruthless: A Memoir. pp. 141-143. Simon Spotlight Entertainment. ISBN 1-4169-1792-6
  7. ^ HOCHMAN, STEVE (1989-10-05). "Compton Rappers Versus the Letter of the Law : FBI Claims Song by N.W.A. Advocates Violence on Police". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved . 
  8. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/30years/stories/s1286179.htm Archive
  9. ^ "30 Years of Triple J - Censorship and NWA's Fuck the Police". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2005-01-21. Retrieved . 
  10. ^ "30 Years of Triple J - Censorship and NWA's Fuck the Police". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2005-01-21. Retrieved . 
  11. ^ Triple J News Theme's 30 years. YouTube. 28 April 2012. Retrieved 2015. 
  12. ^ "Tiki Taane arrested after chanting 'Fuck the police' at gig". 
  13. ^ "Tiki Taane case adjourned". The New Zealand Herald. 2011-06-01. 
  14. ^ "Tiki Taane - new poster boy for freedom of speech". RadioLIVE, MediaWorks NZ. 2011-04-13. Retrieved . 
  15. ^ "B.W.P. - Wanted Lyrics". Genius. Retrieved . 
  16. ^ "Ice Cube". Billboard. Retrieved 2015. 
  17. ^ "'South Park' Endorses 'Ferguson Effect,' Presents a World Without 'Racist, Trigger-Happy' Cops". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2015. 
  18. ^ "JB Hi-Fi - Straight Outta Compton: 20th Anniversary Edition N.W.A." jbhifionline.com.au. Retrieved 2015. 
  19. ^ "ARIA Australian Top 50 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. September 14, 2015. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved 2015. 
  20. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  21. ^ "N.W.A Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 25, 2015.

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