In the 1980s, police brutality toward minorities was at a high. When the band N.W.A started gaining fame and money, the police treated them poorly, and since the group consisted of African Americans, they received a lot of harassment as they were profiled as drug dealers and other African American stereotypes. The group was once caught shooting paintballs around, which lead to the cops laying them “face down in the street and [pointing] guns at them” (Crawford). Police around this time period shot many African American people, which caused the group to become infuriated. N.W.A released a song in August of 1988, the midst of the police brutality in Los Angeles, called “F*** Tha Police.”
This song was meant to insult the police as well as expose the police brutality to the public. The band used the song was meant to get the public to protest the police brutality. The song lyrics portray the message that the band would be able to beat up the police if the police did not have as much legal power as they should, and the reason the police can do what they do is because of the power the public grants them. Because of this reasoning, when the song was released, there were more attacks by the public on the police. Due to the increase of attacks on the police and the message that violence is acceptable, the FBI sent letters to the band saying the band could not perform “F*** Tha Police” at any of their concerts, and the band always agreed to those terms; however, N.W.A always perform the song. N.W.A believed the FBI should not control their free speech and wanted the public to understand their situation and side with them. The police would storm the stage when “F*** Tha Police” stated playing, so it also showed the public how badly the police did not want the public to hear the song.
The song begins with an introduction where the members have a fake trial in order to mock the judicial system in America. The song itself starts with Ice Cube yelling “F*** the police!” The tone he uses to start the song shows Ice Cube’s anger on the situation, and he wants to provoke the audience as well. He continues by talking about how he’s brown so the police do not treat him as an equal, but rather they have the authority to attack him when pleased. He continues by mentioning how the police commonly attack the black youth when arresting them, and he explains how they hide behind their badge and gun in order to act tough. But Ice Cube mentions that if the police and him were both in prison, Ice Cube would easily be able to take them on. Since the band members were all teenagers or early twenties when N.W.A started gaining fame, the police would always search his possession thinking they were stole or that he made his money of drug deals rather than him actually earning the money. He continues by saying that even if the cop is black, they will still side with the white cops to prove their power over the regular black citizens.
MC Ren takes on the second verse by starting the same way Ice Cube did. He then references Ice Cube’s line “They have the authority to kill a minority,“ by saying “Because the n***** on the street is a majority.” N.W.A was a band from Compton, and in the 1980s and 1990s, it was mostly a black community, so MC Ren comments that the blacks have more authority in their community, so they could start an uprising against the police. He continues to explain that when he’s arrested and the police state the Miranda rights to him, it does not apply to him because the police force was unfair. He continues to explain that he has a history of tricking cops, and he always wins, which got him his reputation of killing a lot of cops.
Eazy-E approaches the third verse with a less violent entrance, but he explains that he’s tired of how he is treated just for being black. His most iconic lyric in the song is “they put out my picture with silence ‘cause my identity by itself causes violence.” He references the social concept that African Americans are feared regardless of their actions. He shows how the police often portray African Americans as vicious. He continues to explain how he had a history with gangs and drugs, but the only thing the police have is their gun and badge with back tracks to Ice Cube’s verse where he explains that the police use their badge and gun to promote their authority and as their only defense mechanism.
Overall, NWA uses the song as a way to release their anger about the police brutality occurring in Los Angeles. They explain that the police treat them with no respect solely because of the color of their skin. Even if they are economically striving, the police assumed they did not earn it, but rather obtained the money by illegal activity. NWA was not attacking only the white cops, but they showed their anger towards the black cops as well. They explained that the government protects the police, but if the cops did not have a gun, the blacks in the community would not give them the authority they believe they deserve because the African Americans could easily beat them.
The song begins with records scratching followed by symbols, drums, and the horn. The band plays sirens in the background to continue with the theme of the police. The tune starts with a drum track going from the highest pitch to the lowest pitch, ending with the horn. At the end, there is a cymbal crash followed by the pattern starting over. The notes in the intro have a staccato style of playing, where the notes are separated from each other. The notes start off being really short and high pitched, but as the intro continues, the notes are held longer and sound a lower pitch. The intro ends with loud record scratching as well has heavy drum sounds.
The first verse begins with a loud drum noise in fast tempo. The guitar is introduced into the first verse, which keeps a constant mid-range pitch. In the second half of the first verse, the guitar pitch becomes higher but still remains constant for a while. The notes on the line beginning with “thinking every” disappear and there is no music for a second, but then when Ice Cube says “selling narcotics” the drums, guitar, and high pitched noises come back louder than usual. At the end of the verse, the music completely cuts out only to hear Ice Cube’s line, and then scratching records comes on.
The chorus of the song consists of mainly record scratching with the occasional high-pitched trumpet noise as the guitar and drum sounds come and go. When the vocals stop in the chorus, the song continues with inconsistent guitar pitches ranging from the lowest to the highest pitch, but this section of the tune is very fast paced. Each of the verses sound the same as the first one, but they emphasis different parts of the lyrics by cutting out the music to focus on the words, then playing the music loudly again. The song displays a homophonic texture because the music and the voices are in unison with one another.
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