As evident from the 2015 biographical movie ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ the gangsta rap collective N.W.A was the pioneer in bringing African American injustice in the USA to mainstream media. They dealt with their fair share of backlash for this uprising from White supremacist groups back in the day. However, the impact they created, the paths they opened up, and the topics they brought to light are still relevant to-date.
Past members Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and MC Ren, made a definite mark on the music industry with their debut studio album ‘Straight Outta Compton.’ Its influence on culture made the album a part of Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’ list, the first rap album to induct into ‘Grammy Hall of Fame,’ and Library of Congress listed the album on National Recording Registry. From this album comes hits such as “Straight Outta Compton,” “F*ck tha Police,” “Dope Man,” “Gangsta Gangsta” and more.
“F*ck tha Police” is a protest song that N.W.A and the general public used and continue to use to date. The song voices against police brutality, injustice, and racial profiling targetted towards African Americans in the United States of America.
The song was born after Eazy-E and Dr. Dre were shooting paintball guns at vehicles on a freeway, and gets pulled off by the police and “lay us down on the freeway, really aggressive and the whole nine, as they should’ve been” says Dr. Dre in a documentary by HBO. After the song was released, the FBI contacted N.W.A’s record label ‘Ruthless Records’ and warned about the portrayal of law enforcement in this song. However, this aided in the popularity of the song even further.
Listen to “F*ck tha Police” by N.W.A
The intro to the song plays out a trial from a courtroom: “the case of N.W.A. versus the Police Department.” And the N.W.A is invited to narrate their side of the story.
Ice Cube, one of the three co-writers of the song, jumps into the rap. He starts off with possibly the most famous police protest slogan now: “F the police.” And then he moves onto listing down the reasons for his statement.
Ice Cube goes onto talk about the ugly side of the law in the streets. Racial discrimination was a major thing back in the day and although we expect it to have reduced today, it has not. The latest condemnation, the murder of George Floyd (May 25, 2020), is the latest addition to a long list of police brutalities against African Americans in the USA.
Ice Cube says that no officer of the law has any right to treat a civilian differently based on their skin color. Even if there was a justified cause for their arrest, they would still be treated inhumanely than that for a White. Physical abuse was/is among one of the top harassments by law against African Americans.
The biggest racial stereotyping that lead to this behaviour is slamming a label of ‘drug dealer’ or ‘thief’ on African Americans. Hence, even if a Black look at someone wrong, they would be considered a suspect and treated horribly thereafter too.
Ice Cube also makes a remark about the African American police officers. One would think they would behave better towards their own race. But no, African American police officers seem to be worse according to Ice Cube, as they “showing out for the white cop.”
The chorus of the song is the chant of the infamous protest slogan.
In this little skit, N.W.A shows how bad the actual situation was back then. The police pull these people over just because they feel like it. Then they go on to probe and provoke the ‘suspects’ to a point where they try to act up so that the police can arrest them possibly slamming the charge “failure to comply.”
MC Ren is called in for the testimony. He, too, starts off with the slogan and continues to rap about the injustice.
MC Ren mentions that Miranda rights have become a joke when it comes to African American arrests. Those rights mean nothing in this equation. The only things that make these crooked cops powerful are their ‘badge’ and their gun. Without any of them, MC Ren would not think twice to take them out on his own.
“Taking out a police would make my day” says MC Ren and it shows how much oppressed they are with the constant police brutality.
In the second skit, the police are heard breaking into Eazy-E’s house. And the reason for barging in? “Shut the f*** up.”
Eazy-E jumps on the third and final verse of “F*ck tha Police.” His lyrics, too, go into details of his hatred towards the injustice faced by himself, N.W.A members, and African American community as a whole. He also raises the question that without the badge and the gun, what do these “police” officers got for themselves. If they were to show up without either of them, N.W.A will pretty much run them over. Not to say that they did not with this song.
In the final skit, the jury gives out their verdict; the cops are guilty! The cop/s are heard screaming that the verdict is a fraud. But the verdict does not change. These must be the same emotions running through an innocent African American who is charged with fake evidence.
Although violent in nature, as N.W.A intended it to be, the song reveals an even violent, dark, and twisted reality in society as old as American history itself. The song has resurfaced on social media and among protestors following the murder of George Floyd, an African American, by a Minnesota police officer, for the offense of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a store. Let that sink in!
Let us hear what you think about this protest song in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics and further meaning breakdown on Genius.