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BLACK MUSIC MONTH: "FUCK THA POLICE"

It’s hard to believe that “Fuck Tha Police,” one of the most incendiary hits of all time and still a lightning rod for controversy, dropped 32 years ago.

N.W.A’s blistering 1988 broadside about an out-of-control LAPD with “the authority to kill a minority” caused the establishment to tremble and endless finger-wagging among politicians of all persuasions. It even earned the group a threatening letter from the FBI.

Yet the Straight Outta Compton cut's critique would ultimately became a mainstream view in the 21st Century, as the relentless slaughter and abuse of black citizens by cops has continued unabated. Indeed, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, the most famous of the band’s members, are now much more a part of the cultural fabric than the bureaucrats who upbraided them. The song, meanwhile, has been covered multiple times and inspired countless subsequent rallying cries, such as YG’s 2020 cut “FTP.”

In fact, its title is now arguably less controversial than "Defund the Police."

In the post-George Floyd era, “Fuck Tha Police” is an anthem blasted (and chanted) at every protest—and those protests are shifting culture, politics, commerce and everything else.

When “Fuck Tha Police” came out—before the Rodney King beating and the L.A. riots, long before the present enormities—the LAPD was ruled by Chief Daryl Gates, an unapologetic racist who oversaw the force’s mega-militarization. While today’s department leadership talks a better game, black folks are still regularly targeted and ruthlessly endangered.

But the kids shouting along with this landmark hip-hop track at their enormous rallies aren’t slowing down. They will have change, and N.W.A, all these years later, will have played a role.

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