Music News

A Hip-Hop (and Clash) Playlist Dedicated to NYPD Brutality

Hip-hop culture has long had a turbulent relationship with law enforcement. Some has been pure posturing, some is a result of actual law-breaking (spray-painting Subway cars looks cool, but it's not legal), and some is just straight up bad behavior by the men in blue.  Further cementing the final notion, a new video has surfaced which illustrates the unrestrained animosity towards their community.

On Tuesday night during the New York record release party for Smif-N-Wessun's Monumental. In an official statement, the group, who performed alongside long-time producer and MC Pete Rock,

recalled that the evening had been peaceful. There had been something

of an argument that occurred outside, between people who had not even

attended the show. This infraction was quieted by the

venue's security, but did little to keep a battalion of cro magnon thugs from storming the doors, spraying patrons with mace, and delivering wanton beatings to innocent bystanders.

After watching something like this unfold, it is hard to suppress the aggravation it stirs.

It comes as no surprise then that hip-hop has birthed a multitude anti-cop anthems. Scenes like the above immediately call songs like Ice T and Body Count's "Cop Killer" and NWA's "Fuck The Police" to mind. And rightly so. These two songs are probably the best known in this niche. We, however, would like to take the time to present a handful of others that may be, more or less, less obvious that the previous two selections.

Jeru The Damaja - "Invasion"
From 1996's Wrath of the Math. Produced by DJ Premier, this song tells a story of racial profiling and the struggle of dealing with its effects.

Public Enemy - "911 is a Joke"
Released by Def Jam in 1990, this standout track from Fear of a Black Planet captures the disillusionment in the classic tagline "To Protect and Serve."

Big L - "Fed Up With the Bullshit"
If there was ever a rapper who so vehemently despised the police, it was Big L. Over the course of his tragically short career in hip-hop, he produced more than a few songs entailing his frustration with the police. Of all the songs he wrote about the topic, this song from 1995's Lifestylez Ov da Poor and Dangerous stands out above the others.

KRS One -  "Sound of Da Police"
Just the sound of a police siren is enough to send KRS One into a fit of rage.

The Clash - "The Guns of Brixton"
Although it isn't quite a hip-hop song, the song's slow beat and bass lines get it close enough for inclusion in this list, as well as illustrating an armed standoff and the final ultimatum it gives.

As you can see distaste for uniformed figures of authority is not strictly limited to hip-hop. Countless punk and metal bands have touched on the subject. Hell, Morissey recorded a song that refers to the boys in blue as "uniformed whores." It's an ongoing theme in music and with provocations like this still occurring, it is safe to say that it's residency has yet to expire.

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Ryan Burk