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N.W.A – Fuck Tha Police – (until she comes ;-) )

N.W.A – Fuck Tha Police – Lyrics analysis and meanings

Gangsta-rap songwriting

Fuck Tha Police – Lyrics

Intro

Right about now, N.W.A. court is in full effect

Judge Dre presiding

In the case of N.W.A. vs. 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 to help your black ass?

Ice Cube: You goddamn right!

Well won’t you tell everybody what the fuck you gotta say?

 

Verse 1 – Ice Cube

Fuck the police coming 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

Fucking with me cause I’m a teenager

With a little bit of gold and a pager

Searching my car, looking for the product

Thinking every nigga is selling narcotics

You’d rather see, me in the pen’

Than me and Lorenzo rolling 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 swoll 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 Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

 

Interlude 1

Pull your god damn ass over right now

Aww 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

Aight, smartass, 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 stepping

And the motherfucking weapon is kept in

A stash box, 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’mma 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 them 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

Taking out a cop or two, they can’t cope with me

The motherfucking 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

*2 gunshots*

Yeah, something like that

But it all depends on the size of the gat

Taking out a police would make my day

But a nigga like Ren don’t give a fuck to say

 

Chorus

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

 

Interlude 2

Yo man, what you need?

Police, open out!

Aww shit

We have a warrant for Eazy-E’s arrest

Get down and put your hands up 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

I’m tired of the motherfucking jacking

Sweating my gang, while I’m chilling 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 something 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 ya 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

(MC Ren: 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 rolling, keep looking in the mirror

And ears on cue, yo, so I can hear a

Dumb motherfucker with a gun

And if I’m rolling off the 8, 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 Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

 

Interlude 3

The verdict

The jury has found you guilty of being a redneck

White bread, chickenshit motherfucker

But wait, that’s a lie! That’s a god damn lie!

Get him out of here!

Get him the fuck out my face!

I want justice!

Out, right now!

Fuck you, you black motherfuckers!

 

Chorus

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

 

Fuck Tha Police – Explanation of the lyrics

Intro

Right about now, N.W.A. court is in full effect

Right now: in linguistics, we call a deïctic word a word whose meaning changes according to the context: for example “now“, the precise moment of the present, changes all the time, so this “now” of Dre from 1988 is now 30 years old, it is not the now of 2018.

An advantage of deïctic words is that they are updated gracefully according to the public – and so every time we listen to FUCK THA POLICE, their now from 30 years ago is now! (or the now of 30 years, 20 years, 10 years ago, or those in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years.) Which creates a realism effect and a sense of urgency: it will happen there under our eyes, right now. It’s always happening because the present is always present.

NWA court: the court of the NWA, the court of justice of the stylish niggers: by this expression, the authors introduce the theme of the song: it will be for the rap band to constitute a people’s court to judge the most criminal institution of all states: I named this old right-minded sadistic torturer, the police!

is in full effect: there is at once a parody of the jargon of justice and a counter-claim of power.

Judge Dre presiding

In STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, Dre was a MC / presenter. In reality, he is a producer and DJ / musician more than a singer.

As producer he assumes this first album of the NWA, which will launch his career and those of Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren, Yella. Later he will launch the careers of Eminem, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar.

As a DJ, he is already busy throwing samples, scratching, managing drum machines and effects, and launching the verses of his singers.

It is therefore quite logical that he has easily projected himself into this role of president of the judges, in a position of supervisor. 30 years later, he has made his whole career as a supervisor of the success of rap in America.

In the case of N.W.A. vs. the Police Department

This defines the main characters of the story:

  • Heroes: the NWA court
  • Antagonist: the police

Prosecuting attorneys are MC Ren, Ice Cube

So here, the singers play the role of prosecutors, so they will develop a case against the police in the position of accused.

So even if this song is narrative, since it tells a lawsuit, it stages speeches, as in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON and many other rap songs.

And Eazy-motherfucking-E

It can be noticed that Dre and Eazy-E had a whole line to get introduced, while MC Ren and Ice Cube had to share one. That says something about the history and internal power struggle inside NWA, led by Eazy-E who was looking for Dre as a producer to set up a band with the money from his drug trafic. From there, MC Ren and Ice Cube, among others, were recruited as singers. Eazy-E takes a prime position also because he bought his place.

 

Order, order, order

The parody continues, and the audience obviously finds funny this dramatic irony there is to see gangsters claim order in court. ?

Ice cube, take the motherfucking stand

All along we will witness a strange explosive mix between the true identity of the singers and their parodic role. So here we have for example take the stand that sounds normally legal, stuffed with a motherfucking that sounds… differently.

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth

Here, same game: perfect parody of the role of judge, with typical formulas

And nothing but the truth to help your black ass?

… then a verbal transgression betrays the fact that it is still a nigga who is speaking.

Ice Cube: You goddamn right!

The little game of alternation between conformity and transgression continues, since here, Ice Cube is precisely the opposite of what is expected of a good prosecutor, namely that he starts to swear like a pig, on God and more.

Well won’t you tell everybody what the fuck you gotta say?

And hop, we replace the eloquence expected by the truculence of the street.

 

Verse 1 – Ice Cube

Fuck the police coming straight from the underground

Fuck the police: this will be the main gimmick of the song, the first words of each verse, and the chorus-slogan repeated 4 times.

coming straight from the underground: it’s an intertextual allusion to STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON.

A young nigga got it bad cause I’m brown

The change of person mixed with the expression of the cause is not clear… An encrypted joke to understand?

In any case the theme is clear: it is the racism of the police.

And not the other color so police think

They have the authority to kill a minority

So, this is the first charge made by Attorney Ice Cube, he claims that the police kills blacks out of racial hatred.

Fuck that shit, cause I’m not the one

For a punk motherfucker with a badge and a gun

gun, at the rhyme: notice how the following two verses are also made of very short and strong words, all related to crime: gun, jail, cell.

To be beating on, and thrown in jail

The prosecutor develops his argument, and at the same time the gangster in him revolts, refusing the treatment that would be inflicted by the police.

It may be noted that the authors did not understand the judicial system well. They announced that the singers would be prosecutors, but this first singer speaks as a victim, not as a prosecutor. This confusion, which reveals gaps in knowledge, is not very pretty to see. If we remember the concept of street knowledge, we see that it is also about ignorance, knowledge gaps, a poor vision of society and its institutions, including the repressive institutions that are the police and justice. That’s part of the problem, basically: litigants do not understand the system that judges them…

We can go toe-to-toe in the middle of a cell

He imagines, therefore, finding himself in a cell with one of his oppressors, so both in the situation of prisoners, but obviously always opposed and both ready for a fight to death.

Fucking with me cause I’m a teenager

There is a second accusation, of taking unfair advantage over the weakness of others.

With a little bit of gold and a pager

But hey, this teenager already seems to behave as a young worker, since he has gold – metaphor to say money? – and a pager – probably to communicate with other dealers or customers for example.

Searching my car, looking for the product

Well, this rather mature teenager also has a car, which the cop searches for narcotics of course. Oddly enough, the facts told by the prosecutor, incriminate the ex-young dealer in him, because this gold, this pager and this car are probably really the attributes of a young dealer, so he is really guilty, therefore the cop is really right to search his car. It’s as if Ice Cube was betraying himself, he still thinks of himself as a dealer who feels legitimate to fend for himself as he can, and therefore to defend his property, even badly acquired.

Thinking every nigga is selling narcotics

See, this argumentation sounds weak. The prosecutor denounces this cop who thinks that this nigga sells drugs. While in fact, the gangsta who plays this attorney tells us about his own experience as a dealer.

You’d rather see, me in the pen’

In the pen’: of course it means in the penitentiary, but just hearing in the pen’, we could think that means, by metonymy, in writing.

Than me and Lorenzo rolling in a Benz-o

Ahlala, these car brands in rap lyrics and clips, it’s going to last. These dominated people have been exposed all their lives to advertising from the automotive industry, in mass, like battery chickens, without revolt, very obediently. They took these German brands – yet heir to the worst racists in history – as the object of their desire and symbol of their success. One may wonder whether the desire for the same thing as the dominant is, for the dominated, the most judicious way. Should rappers not rather defend their own, autonomous economy, out of white capitalist domination? In reality, these rappers of NWA were branded to death, capitalists in the soul, and they were successful also because of this deep compatibility with the liberal values ​​of their time (they have just lived 8 years under Donald Reagan, former Hollywood actor…) Contestants, these rappers who all became millionaires? My ass, rich nigga. They just wanted to have their share of the American materialistic dream, and are just as responsible, among other things, of the current ecocide, as promoters of big polluting cars, as permanently careless hyper-consumers.

Do you know what a black rapper from the ghetto, a “legit” one, a true gangsta, does when he has millions?

Does he helps his brothers from the ghetto? Does he invest money in the construction of decent homes in poor areas? Does he finance blacks political parties and associations?

No, he doesn’t do anything of that.

He buys luxury cars for himself.

So, we will see Ice Cube in a Porsche and Dr Dre in a Hummer and all the others – Puff Daddy in a Rolls Royce, and

Without oil, they’re nothing. They need wars in Irak to be rap stars.

Beat a police out of shape

Beat: it’s fun to hear that the word beat falls on the first beat, the first strong tempo of the verse.

And when I’m finished, bring the yellow tape

When I’m finished: we’ll see it in 14 verses, these words will be repeated.

The yellow tape: the yellow tape is a metonymy, it is the tape used by the police to delimit a crime scene. This kind of shortcuts brings realism – as if we were on the crime scene.

To tape off the scene of the slaughter

So, we’re going to need a lot of tape, we first thought of a roll, but when comes the word slaughter instead of crime, we then understand that we’re going to need the whole box of tape, like for any of the many massacres that took place in the wild, violent USA (list of massacres in the US: it’s fucking long).

Many men we would hate did what Ice Cube said to do, what True Virile Men do everywhere in America and elsewhere when they do not agree, when they are angry, in rage: to take a weapon (it’s riskless, you’re so superior with it!) and kill everybody. Like nazis, like ISIS, like angry rappers.

You must know that these crises of the male nerves are a pathology that heals, a stupid mistake that can be fixed, and as a culture, it can be dumped in the toilet, just flush this shit and say goodbye to violent men’s slaughters.

In case you write lyrics, please, don’t support this stupid culture of selfish male violence, find better solutions to the problem of having to live with people who think like Ice Cube.

Still getting swoll off bread and water

The sequence of ideas becomes a bit obscure. He has just threatened to make a massacre and now says he is swoll, swollen, with bread and water – typical food of a prisoner, as if he were already condemned for the massacre he has just committed, but this prisoner’s food may as well designate his real daily food, so that would mean that he already considers himself a prisoner, and that, whether he commits a massacre or not, it will not change his ordinary food.

I don’t know if they fags or what

So, third major accusation, the cops would be gays.

Which implies the prosecutor is homophobic… which, at the time, in 1988, was still legal.

Search a nigga down, and grabbing his nuts

So here we have the old problem of conflicts between males: white males who want to feel dominant become cops, and deny virility, by catching them by the balls, to black males who also want to feel dominant, these defend themselves by treating the white dominants of fags. That’s schoolyard logics.

And on the other hand, without a gun they can’t get none

There’s a word play here, they can not get none, they catch none, no what? No nuts, but nuts in familiar English means “nothing, nothing at all”. So they catch nothing, and as well, without a gun they have no balls.

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

Fourth accusation that deals exclusively with the black cops: the prosecutor accuses them of being traitors allied to racist white cops.

Ice Cube will swarm

Swarm: the term is a bit difficult to understand. Swarm means swarm of bees, if it’s a name, and swarm, if it’s a verb. But we understand the image given the context: he will take out his automatic gun and shoot, the bullets will fly like a swarm of bees. I just made a whole paragraph to explain what the eloquent prosecutor told you in four words ?

On any motherfucker in a blue uniform

This is new information from the NWA experts on the sociology of these strange creatures called motherfuckers. We see here that some of these creatures even wear Schummin uniforms, which, in my faith, when one claims to represent something as monstrous as the State, looks like nothing more than a joke of bad taste. ?

Just ‘cause I’m from the CPT

cause, abbreviation of because, this self-justification sounds obviously aberrant: he says he will shoot the cops… just because he is from CPT. One tends to react to this affirmation by saying to oneself: “but no, that does not justify”. Then, we understand what he means. If every day the cops keep on harassing, molesting, insulting you? If every day they search you, intimidate you, insult you, push you? If that’s the way it is for all the people you know? Then it becomes natural, it goes by itself like a swarm of bees. ’cause, that’s it, that’s all, you shut your mouth.

Punk police are afraid of me, huh

Punk police: So, it does not mean that these cops listen to punk music, because otherwise they would not drink their beer in their office but in jail. So punk here designates a social waste, an underdog.

And so, these cops are afraid of me, that too is paradoxical: he says it accusingly, to reproach it, and yet by his many threats he shows that the police as well as the public are right to be afraid of him. So his argument is a bit difficult to admit, too bad, but the lyrics don’t car, they accept this imperfection, fuck it !

A young nigga on the warpath

He was a teenager, now a young nigga. Ice Cube was indeed 18-19 years old in 1988…

On the warpath: here, as here and there, elsewhere, we allude to the stories of Africa and the Wild West at once. It is the warpath of African tribes struggling before and after the arrival of European slavers, and it is the warpath of the Natives against white settlers in America. This young nigga is the heir to these two parts of the history of the oppressions that founded America.

And when I’m finished, it’s gonna be a bloodbath

And when I’m finished: Second term of the anaphora, which makes a temporal effect of flashback, in connection with the obsession of the present in these words, where things unfold under our eyes.

Of cops, dying in LA

a bloodbath of cops: such a theme was pretty new at the time. The British and then international punk movement had been far in telling rebellious horrors as lyrics (insulting their Queen, betraying their State, spitting on their culture…) But not that far, and in such a credible way – because an English looser who insults his ridiculous Bobbies, it’s just funny, whereas a real young, immature, impulsive, violent gangster with an automatic weapon in hand, is actually scary, knowing that gang warfare could kill 700 gangsters a year in LA in the eighties.

Yo Dre, I got something to say

Hop, we reconnect elegantly with the presentation that Dre had made.

 

Chorus

Fuck Tha Police

So that’s the title of the song, and it’s repeated four times, to form the whole chorus.

This choice is both rare – usually only unintellectual genres like disco or dance have such poor choruses – and rich enough, because singing a forbidden insult (it’s a delict in many states) using it as an anti-system political slogan represented a real risk, and daring to say “fuck off”, in the name of the black community, to the authorities in a racist society steeped in authoritarian values, was brave.

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Yes, it’s really like a demo against the police.

And it’s going to become real 4 years later, in 1992, when the L.A. riots will start precisely from the trial of the 4 cops who severely beated a black driver named Rodney King. When the medias announced that the 4 cops had been freed, black ghettos started to riot, for 6 days.

 

Interlude 1

Here we move on to a different musical sequence, a transition in DJ style by Dr Dre who does a good job, alternating contrasted rhythmic samples, and above them, voices that send sentences in rhythm, leaving a general impression of collage, as an anthology or sum-up of strong sentences of a longer sequence that would have been shortened.

Pull your god damn ass over right now

Aww 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

Aight, smartass, I’m taking your black ass to jail!

So it was a small scene of conflict between the judicial authorities and gangsta-style defendants.

President Dre takes matters in hand, as if the meeting resumed:

MC Ren, will you please give your testimony

MC Ren, will you give your testimony

To the jury about this fucked up incident?

To the jury about this shitty incident?

We see that Dre is relatively good in his role as president who must speak well, he just lets go a little in the end but hey, nobody will tell him anything, he is the president.

 

Verse 2 – MC Ren

Fuck the police and Ren said it with authority

Second anaphor of the slogan. This song is structured with exactly the same technique as in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON: using some words as the chorus, then using them again to open or close the next verse, to create harmonious transitions.

Ren said it with authority, so Ren shows that he embodies his role as prosecutor – who certainly, would never say that if he was a real prosecutor ?

Because the niggas on the street is a majority

A majority: this responds to the argument of the Attorney General Ice Cube denouncing the oppression of a racial minority, but this minority in California or the United States, is a majority in his own neighbourhood.

A gang is with whoever I’m stepping

Like Ice Cube, Ren plays on both sides, he plays two roles simultaneously, he’s only half-disguised.

With his legendary pedagogical spirit (see the lyrics of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON in which he speaks as a kind of authoritarian teacher) MC Ren is still giving us a definition! This guy was probably traumatized by his English teacher in primary school.

And the motherfucking weapon is kept in

Motherfucking weapon: So in Ren’s country, the weapons also had incestuous experiences with their spawners. Funny place, though I would not go there.

The sentence, we’ll see it right after, is a partial false track: the verse tells us that the weapon is kept inside, and at this stage we imagine, inside a jacket, pants, it is carried but it is not pulled out, so everything is still not too bad…

A stash box, for the so-called law

By this continuation, it is kept in / a stash box, it partially cancels the effect of kept in, and not pulled out, but it is kept in a stash box, guarded by cunning in a hideout, kept secretly at hand to shoot by surprise, and so it’s no longer safe at all, it’s threatening and scary.

And who threatens who? The gangster threatens the so-called law – not even the police, the police, but the law itself – is an allegory, the law becomes an enemy that can be beaten. Owl ! (But it’s only a dream, if we could we’d have smoked it for a long time.)

Wishing Ren was a nigga that they never saw

Basically, the first time we hear FUCK DA POLICE, Ren is probably a nigga they never saw.

And so, our allegory of the law, which continues, wants Ren to return to its original anonymity – even though Ren is actually showing him his gangster and stage name. He therefore implicitly means that the law is co-responsible for his anonymity as a never seen nigga, as if it had forbidden him the right for visibility and social recognition.

Lights start flashing behind me

Ah, the pretty lights ? Unfortunately for the invisible gangsta, it is probably the lights of police repression that light up, their headlights, their flashing lights and their flashlights in your face… and not at all lights that would come to solve the problem of the blacks’ invisibility.

These lights could also mean spotlights surrounding the rapper on stage, in this case he’d be describing his performance on stage (live in our head) from his lyrics.

These lights could also come from firearms, when the gangster pulls out and shoots the police.

But they’re scared of a nigga so they mace me to blind me

New charge: the policer is negrophobic.

They mace me to blind me: the police do not solve the problem of the invisibility of the blacks, they make it worse by blinding them.

But that shit do not work, I just laugh

To police’s fear and hostility, the gangster reacts with another paradoxical emotion: we expect pain, but he expresses the contrarylaughter. To show  indifference, or before the absurdity of the cops’ feelings.

Because it gives them a hint not to step in my path

He named himself as a nigga, and the nigga before told us he was on the warpath. So maybe they’re on the same warpath, or a parallel path.

It gives them a hintlexical field of the police investigation, the author purposely appropriates the language stolen to his enemy.

For police, I’m saying, “Fuck you punk!”

It is said in a particularly emphatic way. He does not just say it, he tells us that he says it, and he tells us who says it and to whom he says it.

Reading my rights and shit, it’s all junk

punk, junk: this is the lexical field of dirt, applied to the police and the law. Thought of a litigant.

Pulling out a silly club, so you stand

Apparently, the gangster paints the cop as a ridiculous golfer? I did not find a plausible explanation of this verse.

With a fake-ass and a gun in your hand

fake: false, inauthentic, we are in the lexical field opposite to the values defended here and there in NWA’s lyrics, then of its members in solo, then rap in general: to be AUTHENTIC. The gangsta is true, the cop is fake.

A gun in your hand: when this rhyme arrives, it is a little annoying, because it shows the cop in good position, dominating the situation, threatening, ready to seriously harm the gangster.

But take off the gun so you can see what’s up

… that’s why this verse falls perfectly. He comes to take off the gun, so it lets the cop standing defenseless, in a dominated situation – and what’s left up is no more the gun but “what“, something undefined and that will happen – in short, a threat.

And we’ll go at it punk, and I’ma fuck you up!

The important thing is the play between the verbs of these versestake off the gun, see what’s up, go at it, fuck you up. It’s a combo as in a well-orchestrated action movie, it’s CPT’s nigga that plays Hollywood in a nutshell.

Make you think I’mma kick your ass

We take over the situation, as if we exemplified how the actionfuck you up” will unfold.

But drop your gat, and Ren’s gonna blast

But: still these weird, useless, obsessive logical connectors which structure the discourse of Ren… but… it seems everything is so unclear in his mind that he needs to reconnect all the pieces all the time… but… his logics remains so sadly primitive, so oppositionnal…

Drop your gat: we’re doing the same action again, as if the cop’s gun, which had just been taken off, had come back, and it was still necessary to disarm it.

But, and: so again it’s a mini-action movie, and the linking of the two lines means that Ren faked physical aggression before shooting, so he’s a clever, smart, tricky killer.

I’m sneaky as fuck when it comes to crime

And he is aware of it, to be sneaky about crime. It’s fun to notice that even in the expression of brutal force, what they want us to acknowledge is their intelligence. The first rap lyrics were basically no great literature, but still, they were written by people who loved writing enough to write lyrics. But, as writers, of course, they knew they were blacks, they knew they didn’t like school and school didn’t like them, so they felt unarmed, shy, intimidated, though still brave enough to try and improve their lyrics.

And this bet proved right: later on, rap lyrics, which started rather poorly with authors like N.W.A.’s (sorry to say so, but they’re really not the best…), went better and better and became a noble, estimated, awarded genre, even when still dealing with vulgarity and violence. Rap lyrics became a literature, with jewels written by The Notorious B.I.G. (very poetic style), Eminem (very dramatic) or Kendrick Lamar (arty and creative as fuck).

But I’ma smoke them now and not next time

Funny:)

The preceding verse concludes the verse before, but introduces the next one.

Now it’s funny to see suddenly the rapper go “I encourage myself, I do not procrastinate today, I shoot them now and not next time, so that will be done“. It’s nice, because it’s nonchalant. A murderous nonchalance that will be found frequently, in Coolio’s sad GANGSTA’S PARADISE, in the zenith of Ice Cube in IT WAS A GOOD DAY, in Snoop Dogg’s rapping style, etc.

Smoke any motherfucker that sweats me

Pretty figure of speech in the contrast between the two verbssmoke and sweats. It solves the problem of water by fire, it is basic logic.

Or any asshole that threatens me

Well, he threatened us a lot of times, and the police, but… he’s actually against it. Paradox!!

I’m a sniper with a hell of a scope

Still a figure of speech: as a sniper, it reduces in size compared to gangster, the sniper is solitary. But, he immediately compensates for this loss of energy by expanding his range, so all is well, we freaked for nothing.

Taking out a cop or two, they can’t cope with me

A cop or two: the nonchalance, again, to consider them roughly as three times nothing even when they come at twelve.

Funny pun between cop and cope.

The motherfucking villain that’s mad

Villain: Ah, here is the man who is disgusted not to live in the castle. Jealous, naughty, go!

mad: still the theme of the madness of niggas, their social condition makes them crazy – and we can confirm they are: aggressive mood, low self-esteem,.

With potential, to get bad as fuck

The previous verse is complete, appearing to have been a partial false track. So, the gangsta is mad, crazy, but mad with potential, which means something else: he is crazy about potential, he is full of potential, it is positive! Here, just by a spanning, the fool is healed.

And again the lyrics progress through a surprising completion of the term before by a new term that changes the meaningmad with potential… to get bad as fuck. So we go

  • madnegative,
  • mad with potential, which sounds positive,
  • mad with potential to get bad as fuck, that sounds terribly negative.

In short, he just made us live an emotional roller coaster, just by adding words. Not bad.

So I’ma turn it around

Pun: the expression is ambiguous in fact, turn it around is rephrase by turning things around, but there, the it, it designates the gun of the gangsta.

Put in my clip, yo, and this is the sound

*2 gunshots*

The sound of the shot used as a word, it’s clever, it’s strong, and it will be repeated in rap, for example in Notorious B.I.G.’s WHO SHOT YA? or in M.I.A.’s PAPER CLIPS, where the chorus is a series of sounds of gunfire, which replace the words as in this verse.

Yeah, something like that

This shooter’s commentary on the sound of the shot is further proof of how cool, nonchalant, dandy and nihilistic he is. A shot for him is a sound whose  aesthetic quality he appreciates, roughly speaking.

But it all depends on the size of the gat

Always the kind of question that worries the big macho.

Taking out a police would make my day

would: this use of conditional weakens a little this final. Earlier, he shot frankly, knocked out the whole pighouse. And now, he could only take one out, on occasion?

In any case this thought seems strong, shocking enough, to have been retained to mark the spirits at the end of verse.

But a nigga like Ren don’t give a fuck to say

Same technique as in the first verse, to transition harmoniously towards the chorus.

 

Chorus

Fuck Tha Police

Well, I forgot to specify, but the public, in 1988 as today, knows there are laws that say it is bad to insult the cops. It is not permissible to denounce our public agents, even when they behave illegally or according to immoral laws; we can understand why, from the point of view of the oppressors, I mean dominant social classes, on whose behalf legislators legislate and cops watch.

Fuck Tha Police

So, I repeat, it’s forbidden.

Fuck Tha Police

Shhhh…, what did you say?

Fuck Tha Police

Stop, they will eventually hear you on the radio during their tours !!!

 

Interlude 2

Yo man, what you need?

Police, open out!

Aww shit

We have a warrant for Eazy-E’s arrest

Get down and put your hands up 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!

So, the nature of the sound changes to give the impression of a recorded scene, such as a proof that would be exhibited during the hearing, and we are shown a scene of brutal arrest of Eazy-E – arrest which characterizes his character as a dangerous criminal, even before he speaks. It’s a bit like displaying a “Wanted” portrait, instead of presenting your ID card.

Eazy-E, won’t you step up to the stand

And tell the jury how you feel about this bullshit?

Same role for Dre, same overall correction, with a small verbal transgression at the end to say that we have the right when we take it.

 

Verse 3 – Eazy-E

I’m tired of the motherfucking jacking

Little surprise: exceptionally, this singer does not start on the gimmickFuck da police“.

I’m tired: in fact, it’s surprising too, a rapper who begins his verse super forcefully saying I’m tired: internal contrast between what the media says (“I’m not tired, I sing loudly“) and what the meaning says (“I’m tired“).

Jacking: he defines himself first as a thief. Could this be the cause of his arrest?

Sweating my gang, while I’m chilling in the shack, and

This verse changes the meaning of the previous one. He is not a thief, but a leader of thieves. He sends them stealing, while he is chilling. So that’s what he’s tired of. Doing nothing. In fact, he is not tired…

Shining the light in my face, and for what?

This verse again changes the meaning of the previous ones. The more the elements are added, the more it is consistent with the arrest scene that precedes, and so the verse start to play double-game, to have two meanings: on the one hand, it is the leader of thieves who actually describes his bright way of life, and on the other hand, it is this same leader of thieves who makes his gang sweat, while he was resting, is arrested at home and takes the lights of cops in the face.

Maybe it’s because I kick so much butt

It’s another repetition of a completely cowardly and fraudulent causal explanation, where by saying “because” the gangster means that he does not need to have a reason, he is necessarily right. So it’s another agression against logics.

I kick ass – or maybe cause I blast

The jump from kick ass to blast recalls the previous verse where MC Ren pretended to kick the cop’s ass, to better steal his gun and shoot him by surprise. Similar trick.

On a stupid-ass nigga when I’m playing with the trigger

a stupid-ass nigga, one wonders how such a civilization can pass for the best in the world, treating humans, citizens, like that… ah, no, we know, it’s because of all the wars they won and all the money they got through exploiting the world with capitalism.

Of an Uzi or an AK

Here are two brands of guns worthy of making youth dream. These are two weapons of war, very deadly, stronger than the revolver of the cops.

Seriously: four years later during the L.A. riots, more than 10 000 national guards and other kinds of cops were sent.

Cause the police always got something stupid to say

So now, the intelligence-oriented gangsta continues to pass IQ tests to the police, and the test returns for any answer “Sorry, no form of intelligence has been detected in this cop.” Too bad, another salary of public agent for nothing.

Once again, the because is dummy, it explains nothing at all. Eazy-E is an anti-Kant philosopher. “Fuck pure Reason! Long live practical reason!”

They put out my picture with silence

My picture with silence“, arriving just after “they always got something stupid to say “, contrasts: they have the right to speak, and yet they want to silence me? So, Eazy restores the order of speech. He makes a charge of censorship, which will become reality, since following the broadcast of this nice little solidarity song, the FBI will send to NWA, for the first and last time in the history of the United States, threats of prosecution, through a letter that will be published by the band, to which public opinion, then the political class, will react strongly by closing its mouth to the FBI, in defense of the freedom of expression, which for once, has definitely won its eternal fight against the cops, the fascists, the religious of all sides, the moralists, the fundamentalists, the terrorists, and all the rest of the clique of the enemies of freedom.

Cause my identity by itself causes violence

Cause, cause… always cause! Because, and basta.

My identity by itself causes violence. Wah, wah, wah. Before, Eazy seemed to go easy, chaining ordinary threats, playing to scare. There, he drops a true verse of poet-philosopher.

The E with the criminal behavior

No doubt there are, in the head of Eric-the-easy, many other Es, without criminal behavior?

Yeah, I’m a gangsta, but still I got flavor

It is therefore both a nigga wit attitude and a gangsta with flavor. It’s better than nothing.

Without a gun and a badge, what do ya got?

Gun and badge, the same two symbols that have already trampled the two previous rappers, and which will end up in bad condition, at this rate.

A sucker in a uniform waiting to get shot

This verse is fun, it is coherent, it can well pass alone, it passes just as well in duet with the preceding which introduces it, and it passes as well in the flow, in short, it is a good verse at all scales.

It is a portrait of a cop by a hostile painter, so he has necessarily cut the features to the bill, we can not blame him, we can only admire the sharpness and accuracy and violence of the blows. The Veronese claw cut off the macho virility of the enemy, this cop who possessed a super phallic gun is found sucking like a bitch, penetrated, passive; the weapon has also cut off the nerves of the poor subject, who can only wait, always passively, to get shot.

By me, or another nigga

Oh, humility? Me, or another, it does not matter? it surprises a bit from a guy as cold as Eazy-E. Each rapper is unique and boasts bragging. But sometimes, we admit that we know that we are only one of millions other macho braggers.

And with a gat it don’t matter if he’s smaller or bigger

This verse echoes the similar, equally beguiling, comment by MC Ren in the previous verse: “it all depends on the size of the gat“.

(MC Ren: Size don’t mean shit, he’s from the old school, fool)

So, apparently, they found it clever to be interested in this kind of bullshit, but me, I do not give a fuck, so fuck these verses.

And as you all know, E’s here to rule

In fact, he knows that we do not necessarily know, but he knows it’s good to act as if we were supposed to know, otherwise he should recognize that he is nobody in our eyes, and obviously he seeks to gain our esteem.

Gangsta-rap niggas are obsessed with knowledge:

  • Dre introduced us to street knowledge, and MC Ren gave us definitions, in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
  • ’cause if you don’t know, now you know, nigga – says Biggie Smalls in several songs
  • Who run it? You know, you actin’ like you don’t know – says 50 Cent in YOU DON’T KNOW

E’s here to rule: E is here to rule. In fact, we can read this message as the angry antithesis of reality: citizen of a ghetto town whose name nobody knows, black in a racist white country, E is here to be dominated and to shut his mouth. But E revolts::’( E is bad, E is not a good obedient nigga, E wants to kill his masters, E challenges the established order, E wants to rewrite the law against the law-makers, E wants to impose his own rule.

Whenever I’m rolling, keep looking in the mirror

He rolls joints, or he rolls by car, he is rolling, he rocks’n’rolls, he rolls mechanics. This rolling is polysemic, rich of possible meanings. Eazy deliberately lets it float, decontextualized, to update it as you please.

Listen as these pretty echoes of fast soundsrolling keep looking in the mi, all these i / in, with this staccato diction, it contributes to the beauty of the song obviously.

And ears on cue, yo, so I can hear a

Even nice sound play between ears and hearcue and yo. It flows super well.

Dumb motherfucker with a gun

Dumb… again the obsession to prove that they are smarter…

And if I’m rolling off the 8, he’ll be the one

It has been said that rolling sounds polysemic, and here it is again, completed with off, which brings new meaningsRolling off the 8, may mean rolling on the floor for snorting 8 cokes, or 1 / 8th of an ounce. So the verse means “if I’m drugged to death, I’ll be impulsive and so…”

There is also a kind of pun, of course between off the 8 and be the one.

That I take out, and then get away

Nice new parallel construction of the sentence, which opposes the movements of take out and get away.

While I’m driving off laughing this is what I’ll say

This laughter, after a crime, resumes the criminal nonchalance expressed at the beginning of his verse, and really helps to define the very special style of Eazy-E, the coolest killer, who stumbles into you by mocking you and laughing of his own deadly jokes.

This is what I’ll say, introduces the chorus and announces again that it is a speech, a slogan, and we can notice that all this is a game between black people who speak, Dre called Eazy at the bar, Eazy throws the chorus, the speech circulates well between the parts of the song, illustrating how rap is an oral style, related to small group speech, the word to rap itself meaning to chat, originally!

 

Chorus

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

 

Interlude 3

The verdict

So, this is entirely consistent with the expectations of the public once the basics are set at the beginning of the song: we launched a trial, we wait for a verdict. Only there is a problem.

The jury has found you guilty of being a redneck

That’s all the jury found fault with the police?

I am sending a political message here to NWA: dear criminal court, you have bluntly deceived yourself in your judgment, you have dared neglect to accuse this police of collaboration to a kind of permanent ethnocide, to the maintenance generation after generation of blatant racial inequalities, the killing for no reason of hundreds of black citizens who had the misfortune to look criminal in the eyes of white policemen who were shooting at them out of fear or hatred. The court dared to forget all that? Was not there a Black Panther politician in the corner to instruct these little idiots about the role played by American, federal, and municipal police in the oppression of the descendants of slaves? 30 years later, the Black Lives Matter movement is still reminding people that the police are killing African Americans for nothing.

White bread, chickenshit motherfucker

Here are some superficial insults. There would have been a lot to swing, but it would not have been so easy to get on the radio if the message had been very serious, very political.

Eventually, history has shown that all this little world has not been so badly integrated into American capitalist logic, all have become stars, millionaires, and have had relatively few problems with the police and justice – just a few trials and a few months of jail for some rappers.

But wait, that’s a lie! That’s a god damn lie!

Get him out of here!

Get him the fuck out my face!

I want justice!

Out, right now!

Fuck you, you black motherfuckers!

Final revelation of an obvious racism.

 

Chorus

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Fuck Tha Police

Repeat a little?

 

SYNTHESIS

When they first heard this, LA police probably said exactly the same thing Monica said when she discovered that her chocolate cake had messed up:

“OH

MY

GOD”.

It is indeed a song that amazes like some good dope, shocks like a good terrorist attack, and strikes like a good black boxer.

Summing it up, it tells the trial of the police organized by the Niggaz Wit Attitude band, which is then unknown to the public.

Wild and expeditious, this parody of botched trial presents the gangsters / singers as prosecutors who take turns to smash the accused verbally, to charge them for racism, sadism, lack of manliness and stupidity, to cover them with shame, to terrorize them, to threaten them with death several times, and finally to convict them, CQFD.

Here we recognize a well-known process in the theater and in popular festivals such as the carnival: the inversion of the order of the world and the satire of the powers. In the Middle Ages, for example, there were processions in which a donkey held the role of bishop who guided the people of the fools in the city, or false trials where animals were judged to make fun of human justice. Under various revolutions, Kings and Nobles and their Policemen and Magistrates were ridiculed. In the same way, here the criminals judge the police forces while paradoxically claiming to be its victims, while committing themselves before our eyes multiple flagrant verbal aggressions against the law (like insults and death threats).

This trial, unfortunately, the young criminal artists (who are then between 19 and 24 years old) did not take it seriously.

As a story, their text is sullied by its simplistic and not very dramatic staging (the dramatic tension hardly varies), though the theme (the police) and the procedure (to make it be judged by thugs) sounded very interesting and could take the authors for example to these creative ideas:

  • Ice Cube, MC Ren and Eazy-E could have devoted their verses to judging a list of criminal cases involving cops, corrupt cops, racist cops, rapist-cops or killer-cops. Didn’t they have some salty anecdotes to tell from their ghetto?
  • Or, they could have organized a crescendo in the intensity of the trial, judging increasingly serious police crimes verse after verse.
  • Or, in the same logic of crescendo, they could have shown themselves to be committing more and more deadly attacks against more and more powerful cops,  raising the level of the charges, to show immorality of all cops from the base cop to the inspector then to the commissioner and up to the White House.
  • One of the funny interludes shows the arrest of Eazy-E. It might have been a good idea to have each prosecutor arrested at the end of his verse, linking each arrest to the themes denounced in the verse.

In short, there would have been a thousand anti-police fictions to tell, instead of serving us a gibberish of rather brave but vain egotistical gangsters.

As a speech against repressive institutions, justice and police, the song has the merit of frankness and spontaneity, but misses its object a little because all its critics fly low and sound ordinary and superficial. The great originality having been daring to publish insults to the police in musical form. But fundamentally, neither justice nor the police have been really denounced in their function of social repression nor in their abuses or in their sometimes sinister ideological motivations. The authors, apparently little educated at the time, quickly found themselves short of arguments and made filling with rantings, in an improvised collage of superficial ideas, small jokes, mini-scenes, boasting and vulgarities. At the same time, if their text had sounded more conscious, more ideological, then perhaps this would have limited its audience.

In short, the song is noteworthy for its youthful audacity and wild energy, stylistically interesting, but in terms of storytelling and argumentation, we will see stronger! More scary, more dream-like, more emotional, more poetic.

Gangsta-rap songwriting