Song of the Day #4,669: ‘Fuck Tha Police’ – N.W.A.

The fifth and final 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee is the polar opposite of the previous four.

While fellow inductees Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple and Steve Miller were classic rock acts that waited decades for their first nomination, N.W.A. is a pioneering rap act that made it to the ballot in their first year of eligibility. N.W.A. didn’t get in that year — 2013 — nor did they make it in ’14 or ’15 despite making the shortlist both years. But in 2016, they became the fifth hip-hop act inducted into the Hall.

Some literalists decry the inclusion of rap acts in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, ignoring the fact that many of the Hall’s inductees represent genres other than rock. Plenty of folk, blues and R&B artists influenced rock music and have been honored over the years. There is no denying that rap has had just as big an influence over the past few decades.

As one of the first gangsta rap acts, N.W.A. certainly changed the face of popular music in the late 80s and early 90s. The band was short-lived, releasing only two studio albums between 1988 and 1991, but its members (Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren) went on to have successful solo careers.

Their debut album, Straight Outta Compton, went triple Platinum despite (or maybe because of) protests and bans. The song ‘Fuck Tha Police’ stirred up a tremendous amount of controversy for advocating — or at least describing — violence against police officers.

Listening to this in 2020, it’s striking to realize how long it took the mainstream to appreciate the problems they were describing.

[Intro: The D.O.C., Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube]
Right about now, N.W.A court is in full effect
Judge Dre presiding
In the case of N.W.A versus the Police Department
Prosecuting attorneys are MC Ren, Ice Cube
And Eazy-motherfucking-E
Order, order, order!
Ice Cube, take the motherfucking stand
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth
And nothing but the truth so help your black ass?
You goddamn right
Well, won’t you tell everybody what the fuck you gotta say?

[Verse 1: Ice Cube]
Fuck the police comin’ straight from the underground
A young nigga got it bad ’cause I’m brown
And not the other color, so police think
They have the authority to kill a minority
Fuck that shit, ’cause I ain’t the one
For a punk motherfucker with a badge and a gun
To be beating on and thrown in jail
We can go toe-to-toe in the middle of a cell
Fuckin’ with me ’cause I’m a teenager
With a little bit of gold and a pager
Searchin’ my car, lookin’ for the product
Thinkin’ every nigga is sellin’ narcotics
You’d rather see me in the pen
Than me and Lorenzo rollin’ in a Benz-o
Beat a police out of shape
And when I’m finished, bring the yellow tape
To tape off the scene of the slaughter
Still getting swole off bread and water
I don’t know if they fags or what
Search a nigga down and grabbing his nuts
And on the other hand, without a gun, they can’t get none
But don’t let it be a black and a white one
‘Cause they’ll slam ya down to the street top
Black police showing out for the white cop
Ice Cube will swarm
On any motherfucker in a blue uniform
Just ’cause I’m from the CPT
Punk police are afraid of me, huh
A young nigga on the warpath
And when I’m finished, it’s gonna be a bloodbath
Of cops dying in L.A.
Yo, Dre, I got something to say

[Chorus]
Fuck the police, fuck— fuck—
Fuck the police, fuck— fuck—
Fuck the police, fuck the— fuck the—
Fuck the police (Example of scene one)

[Skit 1: Cop, MC Ren, & Dr. Dre]
Pull your goddamn ass over right now!
Aw shit, now what the fuck you pullin’ me over for?
‘Cause I feel like it!
Just sit your ass on the curb and shut the fuck up!
Man, fuck this shit
Alright, smart-ass, I’m taking your black ass to jail!
MC Ren, will you please give your testimony
To the jury about this fucked up incident?

[Verse 2: MC Ren]
Fuck the police and Ren said it with authority
Because the niggas on the street is a majority
A gang is with whoever I’m steppin’
And the motherfuckin’ weapon is kept in
A stash spot for the so-called law
Wishing Ren was a nigga that they never saw
Lights start flashing behind me
But they’re scared of a nigga, so they mace me to blind me
But that shit don’t work, I just laugh
Because it gives them a hint not to step in my path
For police, I’m saying, “Fuck you, punk!”
Reading my rights and shit, it’s all junk
Pulling out a silly club, so you stand
With a fake-ass badge and a gun in your hand
But take off the gun so you can see what’s up
And we’ll go at it, punk, and I’ma fuck you up
Make you think I’ma kick your ass
But drop your gat, and Ren’s gonna blast
I’m sneaky as fuck when it comes to crime
But I’ma smoke ’em now and not next time
Smoke any motherfucker that sweats me
Or any asshole that threatens me
I’m a sniper with a hell of a scope
Takin’ out a cop or two, they can’t cope with me
The motherfuckin’ villain that’s mad
With potential to get bad as fuck
So I’ma turn it around
Put in my clip, yo, and this is the sound (*Gunshots*)
Yeah, somethin’ like that
But it all depends on the size of the gat
Takin’ out a police would make my day
But a nigga like Ren don’t give a fuck to say

[Chorus]
Fuck the police, fuck the— fuck the—
Fuck the police, fuck the— fuck the—
Fuck the police, fuck the— fuck—
Fuck the police

[Skit 2: Cop, Eazy-E, and Dr. Dre]
*Knocking*
Yeah, man, what you need?
Police, open now (Aww, shit)
We have a warrant for Eazy-E’s arrest (*Battering ram*)
Get down and put your hands right where I can see ’em! (Move, motherfucker, move now!)
What the fuck did I do, man? What did I do?
Just shut the fuck up and get your motherfucking ass on the floor! (You heard the man, shut the fuck up!)
But I didn’t do shit
Man, just shut the fuck up!
Eazy-E, won’t you step up to the stand
And tell the jury how you feel about this bullshit?

[Verse 3: Eazy-E & MC Ren]
I’m tired of the motherfuckin’ jackin’
Sweating my gang, while I’m chillin’ in the shack, and
Shining the light in my face, and for what?
Maybe it’s because I kick so much butt
I kick ass, or maybe ’cause I blast
On a stupid ass nigga when I’m playing with the trigger
Of an Uzi or an AK
‘Cause the police always got somethin’ stupid to say
They put out my picture with silence
‘Cause my identity by itself causes violence
The E with the criminal behavior
Yeah, I’m a gangsta, but still, I got flavor
Without a gun and a badge, what do you got?
A sucker in a uniform waiting to get shot
By me or another nigga
And with a gat, it don’t matter if he’s smaller or bigger
(Size don’t mean shit, he’s from the old school, fool)
And as you all know, E’s here to rule
Whenever I’m rollin’, keep lookin’ in the mirror
And ears on cue, yo, so I can hear a
Dumb motherfucker with a gun
And if I’m rollin’ off the eight, he’ll be the one
That I take out, and then get away
While I’m driving off laughing, this is what I’ll say

[Chorus]
Fuck the police, fuck the— fuck the—
Fuck the police, fuck—
Fuck the police, fuck— fuck—
Fuck the police (The verdict)

[Skit 3: Dr. Dre, Cop]
The jury has found you guilty of being a redneck, white bread, chicken shit motherfucker
Wait, that’s a lie! That’s a goddamn lie!
Get him out of here! (I want justice!)
Get him the fuck out my face! (I want justice!)
Out, right now!
Fuck you, you black motherfuckers!

[Chorus]
Fuck the police
Fuck the police
Fuck the police

8 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,669: ‘Fuck Tha Police’ – N.W.A.

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I can’t say that I am a fan of NWA (or 90% of hip hop for that matter), but I get why they deserve recognition. Still, their inclusion in the Rock Hall underscores my argument that the place should be renamed the Popular Music Hall or Pop Hall for short.

    • Clay says:

      I used to feel similarly, but I’ve come to believe that rap deserves a presence in the Hall due to its influence on rock.

      Recently you called Joan Baez’s inclusion into the Hall of Fame long overdue, though I don’t think Baez’s output could be classified as rock any more than NWA’s can. But in both cases, they pioneered musical genres that helped shape rock-n-roll.

      Artists such as Rage Against the Machine, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Kid Rock are all unquestionably rock acts (one has been nominated multiple times for the Hall, one is in the Hall, and one is Kid Rock). All owe a huge debt to rap, as do modern acts like Post Malone and Machine Gun Kelly.

      • Dana Gallup says:

        Yeah, I get that, and I’m not arguing these artists shouldn’t be included, but I just think that, at this point, the word “rock” (or “rock ‘n roll”) has lost all definitional meaning both musically and culturally.

        Also, while this may be splitting hairs, I see a difference between Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and a host of other early country, blues and folk artists and NWA and hip hop. To me, folk, country and blues were part of the evolution of rock, which is why we now say things like folk rock, country rock or blues rock when describing certain more modern artists who more heavily lean on those foundational styles.

        By contrast, hip hop and EDM may well have influenced some rock artists (and some rock artists have been influenced by hip hop and EDM), but I’m not sure it is either an evolution from rock or an outgrowth of rock. (Other examples of outgrowth would be heavy metal, punk, grunge and progressive)

        For each outgrowth (or branch of the rock tree), we recognize the synergy. However, I don’t hear people saying rap rock, hip hop rock or EDM rock, and there doesn’t seem to be the same evolutionary connectivity of these styles to country, blues, folk or even what we generally think of as “classic” rock.

        Anyway, I just think changing the name to Pop, Contemporary or Modern might be more accurate musically and culturally, and would put an end to the endless (though kinda fun) debate as to what is “rock.”

        • Clay says:

          I see those points, though I will add that “rap rock” is indeed a genre (one Rick Rubin is credited with creating as a producer). It’s a very bad genre, IMO, but it is a thing!

  2. Amy says:

    This certainly isn’t “pop” music, though it was popular. How about just the Music Hall of Fame? 🤷🏻‍♀️

  3. Amy says:

    I remember being far more disturbed by this song than by “Fight the Power,” though I now see how much they have in common. This morning I just read the lyrics as if it were a poem without listening to the song. Maybe I find it somehow more appropriate to voice such needed injustices without without a driving beat? It was likely the visual of so many young people belting out this chorus that caused an uproar and let others (like me) tune the song out completely without ever registering the very powerful message throughout. Regardless, it is an indictment on us all that it took people having cell phones that could record and broadcast the injustices in real time to finally get anyone to do something about them. Did you see the Pat Robertson clip?! We may finally be at that tipping point.

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