Fuck tha Police
|"Fuck tha Police"|
|Song by N.W.A|
|from the album Straight Outta Compton|
|Released||August 9, 1988|
"Fuck tha Police"
"Fuck tha Police" is a protest song by American hip hop group N.W.A that appears on the 1988 album Straight Outta Compton as well as on the N.W.A's Greatest Hits compilation. Written shortly after the group was harassed by the Torrance Police Department, the lyrics protest police brutality and racial profiling and the song was ranked number 425 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Since its release in 1988, the "Fuck the Police" slogan continues to influence pop culture today in the form of T-shirts, artwork, political expression, and has transitioned 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).
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.
At the end, the jury finds the police department guilty of being a "redneck, white-bread, chickenshit motherfucker."
In his autobiography Ruthless, the band's manager 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". He also wrote that he removed all sensitive documents from the office of Ruthless Records in case of an FBI raid.
In the FBI letter, 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 tha Police".
In 1989, Australian radio station Triple J had been playing "Fuck tha Police" (the only radio station in the world to do so) for up to six months, before being banned by Australian Broadcasting Corporation management following a campaign by a South Australian Liberal senator. 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. It was revealed in 2005 that the scratch sound from that track was sampled for the Triple J news theme.
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. 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.
Notable references in popular culture
- Dr. Dre referenced the 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'?".
- The song and the 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."
- It is prominently featured in the 2015 biopic of NWA, also called Straight Outta Compton. The song was also satirically referenced in South Park's season 19 episode "Naughty Ninjas" when the townspeople are protesting the police.
The song has proven popular, covered by various bands. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's version first appeared on the 1997 compilation album, In tha Beginning...There Was Rap, and was later added to the 20th anniversary edition of Straight Outta Compton.
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||97|
|US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)||25|
- "Cop Killer"
- "The Guns of Brixton", a 1979 song by The Clash born of similar frustration with police tactics
- Rodney King
- 1992 Los Angeles riots
- Driving while black
- Police brutality in the United States
- "The D.O.C. on Ice Cube Leaving NWA: Cube Was the Spirit". YouTube. 2015-11-13. Retrieved 2019-11-23.
- "Straight Outta Compton"
- Straight Outta Compton (5/10) Movie CLIP - Police Harassment (2015) HD
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". rollingstone.com. 2004-12-09. Archived from the original on 2008-06-22. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
- "YouTube: Fuck tha Police (RATM cover)". Rage Against the Machine. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- "F*ck tha Police". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- Deflem, Mathieu. 2019. "Popular Culture and Social Control: The Moral Panic on Music Labeling." American Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 44 (First published online July 24, 2019).
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "AllMusic: NWA Biography". Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- Harrington, Richard. "The FBI as music critic". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
- Jerry Heller, Gil Reavill, 2006. Ruthless: A Memoir. pp. 141-143. Simon Spotlight Entertainment. ISBN 1-4169-1792-6
- 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 2017-12-11.
- http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/30years/stories/s1286179.htm Archive
- "30 Years of Triple J - Censorship and NWA's Fuck the Police". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2005-01-21. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
- "30 Years of Triple J - Censorship and NWA's Fuck the Police". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2005-01-21. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
- Triple J News Theme's 30 years. YouTube. 28 April 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- "Tiki Taane arrested after chanting 'Fuck the police' at gig".
- "Tiki Taane case adjourned". The New Zealand Herald. 2011-06-01.
- "Tiki Taane - new poster boy for freedom of speech". RadioLIVE, MediaWorks NZ. 2011-04-13. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- "Fuck the Security Guards". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "Ice Cube". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- "'South Park' Endorses 'Ferguson Effect,' Presents a World Without 'Racist, Trigger-Happy' Cops". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- "JB Hi-Fi - Straight Outta Compton: 20th Anniversary Edition N.W.A." jbhifionline.com.au. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
- "ARIA Australian Top 50 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. September 14, 2015. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
- "N.W.A Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 25, 2015.