NWA- F*** tha Police
NWA are one of the most famous and influential bands of the hip-hop genre . They became known with the release of their first Album “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988. The album included many of NWA’s greatest hits , one of them being “F*** tha Police”, which, arguably, was the most controversial rap song of that time.
At a time when gang violence and police brutality was at an all time high in Compton and in the ghettos in general, NWA’s record gave insight to how life for someone from “the hood” was at the time. “The record was among the first to offer an insider’s perspective of the violence and brutality of gang-ridden South Central L.A. With songs like “Fuck tha Police” and “Gangsta Gangsta” set in a chaotic swirl of siren and gunshot sounds, it also foreshadowed the 1992 L.A. riots.”(Rolling Stone, 2016). Their song “F*** tha Police” sparked a lot of controversy at the time, as it explained and condemned police brutality and the socio-political war amongst gangs and police in the area of Compton and not only. The song was so controversial, that in 1989 the group’s distributor, Priority Records was sent a “warning letter” from the FBI (Rolling Stone, 2016).
That same year the group was arrested for performing the aforementioned song at their live performance in Detroit. They were warned not to play the song, but they did regardless and they where, later on, arrested by the police, when they fled back to their hotel.”[…]they managed to evade police long enough to sneak back to their hotel room. But when they returned to the lobby, the police were waiting for them.”(DeVito, 2015).
What the NWA fought for, more than anything, was freedom of speech. Through their music and lyrics they where able to inform and narrate a gang members’ way of life and struggles. The group did not hesitate to talk about very sensitive matters for the time and were the first to actively fight the illegitimate way the police dealt with people of colour at the time. “We let people know that its OK to say what you wanna say”(Straight Outta Compton – Red Band Trailer with Introduction from Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, 2015). The group fought against racism and police brutality, trying to promote freedom of speech , through their art ,which reached millions of people and brought the hip-hop movement under a new light, because it spread to the public much more due to the media coverage they got and the controversy they stirred with their music.
The NWA set the tone for what followed in the hip-hop scene with many artists following NWA’s example, at the time which is now known as the Golden age of Hip-Hop, the 1990s. It is, therefore, safe to say that the group played a very significant role to the establishment of the genre as we know it, while fighting the opressing authority of the time, in a way where it influenced and inspired many more after them.