Fuck tha Police
Date of Action: August 1, 1989
Region: North America
Location: Los Angeles, California
Confronting Bodies: FBI
Description of Artwork: "Fuck tha Police" is a protest song by the rap group N.W.A, from Compton, California, that appears on their second album, “Straight Outta Compton” as well as on the N.W.A's Greatest Hits compilation. The album became an underground hit, even without any radio play or media coverage, and introduced socially conscious gangsta rap into the mainstream. "Fuck tha Police" appears as the second song on the album, and highlights tensions between African American urban youth and law enforcement. It was ranked number 417 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Protesting police brutality and racial profiling, its lyrics express approval of violence against police. It parodies court proceedings 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.
"Fuckin' with me 'cause I'm a teenager/With a little bit of gold and a pager," rhymes Ice Cube. "When I'm finished, it's gonna be a bloodbath of cops/Dyin' in L.A." Two interludes present re-enactments of stereotypical racial profiling and police brutality.
The Incident: On August 1, 1989, the FBI's Milt Ahlerich sent a letter to N.W.A's label, Priority Records alleging the song "encourages violence against, and disrespect for, the law enforcement officer."
Results of Incident: The letter drew sharp criticism. As the LA Times reported at the time, Danny Goldberg of the ACLU of Southern California said it was "completely inappropriate for any government agency to try to influence what artists do." And the ACLU's Barry Lynn commented, "It would not violate the First Amendment for an individual working for the FBI to personally write such a letter. But it's incredible for the FBI to send this kind of official letter to any person in the creative community." The publicity established N.W.A as hip-hop's number-one bad boys.
The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time, 15. N.W.A, 'Fuck tha Police', Rolling Stone, Dec 5, 2012
“Fuck Tha Police”, N.W.A, Hip-Hop & Politics research blog
Straight Outta Compton’s Censorship Lesson, NCAC, AUGUST 25, 2015
Fuck tha Police, Wikipedia (retrieved 2/8/18; last edited on 3 February 2018, at 21:42)
Fuck Tha Police YouTube