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Race, Rap, and the L.A.P.D. by Rick Young

In "L.A.P.D. Blues," the recurring rhythm of L.A.'s west-side rap presents a political perspective of a racist and oppressive L.A.P.D.--a viewpoint rooted in the Department's history of racial relations and policing practices.

Chief William H. Parker (1950-1966) molded L.A.P.D.'s modern day doctrine and image, hiring Marines as drill instructors and embracing a para-military police model that would earn the force both fame and infamy. Under Parker, the police force became "professional" and, within law enforcement, "the finest in the world." But that was not a view shared by many in L.A., particularly the minority communities of South Central L.A. who were often on the receiving end of the L.A.P.D.'s aggressive tactics.

In 1965, a year before Parker died, the Watts riots offered bloody testimony-- 34 dead--to the widening gulf between the L.A.P.D. and the minority communities it policed. Like most big cities, L.A. had undergone a dramatic demographic shift (the African-American population quadrupled in 20 years); the civil rights movement was emerging on the national stage. Parker's explanation of the Watts riots underscored just how disconnected the Department seemed from the moment. "One person," Parker is reported to have said, "had thrown a rock, and then like monkeys in a zoo, others had started throwing rocks."

"Fuckin with me cuz I'm a teenager
With a little bit of gold and a pager
Searchin my car, lookin for the product
Thinkin every nigga is sellin narcotics"
-- "Fuck the Police," N.W.A.

By the 1980s, Parker's protégé, Daryl Gates, was at the helm, proudly embracing, indeed promoting, the L.A.P.D. policing philosophy. "We went after crime before it occurred," Gates says. "Our people went out every single night trying to stop crime before it happened, trying to take people off the street that they believed were involved in crime. And that made us a very aggressive, proactive police department."

When, in 1992, a nearly all-white suburban jury acquitted four white officers of criminality in the beating of Rodney King, the inner-city again erupted in violent protest. The costly and bloody rioting was, for some, the inevitable reaction of a community that viewed itself in an ongoing war with the L.A.P.D. - a war that increasingly found artistic expression in the lyrics of L.A. rap scene.

"Kickin up dust is a must,
I can't trust a cracker in a blue uniform,
Stick a nigga like a unicorn."
-- "We Had To Tear This Muthafucka Up," Ice Cube


The following are excerpts from the lyrics of some of the songs from the soundtrack to "L.A.P.D. Blues."


Artist: Ice Cube
Album: The Predator
Song: We Had To Tear This Muthafucka Up

Intro: (*numerous recorded men speaking*)
(Peace, quiet and good order will be maintained in our city to the best of
our ability. Riots, melees and disturbances of the peace are against the
interests of all our people and therefore cannot be permitted)
(The jury found that they were all not guilty, not guilty....)
(We've been told that all along Crenshaw Boulevard that there's a series of
fires. A lot of looting is going on. A disaster area obviously)
(The jury found that they were all not guilty, not guilty...)
Make it rough
(A lot of activity continues here in this....)
Make it rough
(We have sporadic fires throughout the city of Los Angeles)

Verse 1:
Not guilty the filthy devils tried ta kill me
When the news get to the hood then niggas will be
hotter than cayenne pepper, cuss, bust
Kickin up dust is a must
I can't trust a cracker in a blue uniform
Stick a nigga like a unicorn
Born wicked Lawrence Powell, foul
Cut his fuckin throat and I smile
Go to Simi Valley and surely
somebody knows the address of the jury
Pay a little visit, "Who is it?" (Who is Ice Cube?)
"Can I talk to the grand wizard?" then boom
Make him eat the barrel, modern day feral
Now he's zipped up like Leather Tuscadero
Pretty soon we'll catch Sergeant Koon
Shoot him in the face, run up in him witta broom
Stick prick, devils ain't shit
Introduce his ass to the AK40 dick
Two dazed niggas layin in the cut
To get some respect we had to tear this muthafucka up.....

Verse 3:
It's on, gone with the wind and I know white men can't dunk
Now I'm stealin blunts
And a cake from Betty Crocker, overweight and blacker
Don't fuck with the black-owned stores but hit the Foot Lockers
Steal, muthafuck Fire Marshall Bill
Oh what the hell, throw the cocktail
I smelt smoke, got the fuck out, Ice Cube lucked out
My nigga had his truck out, didn't get stuck out
In front of that store with the Nikes and Adidas
Oh Jesus, prison surplus got the heaters
Meet us so we can get the 9's and the what-nots
Got the Mossberg with the double eyed buckshot
Ready for Darryl and like Beretta wouldn't say
Keep your eye on the barrel, a sparrow
Don't do the crime if you can't do the time
But I'm rollin so that's a fucked up slogan
The Hogan's Heroes spotted the gorilla by the Sizzler
Hittin up police killer
The super duper nigga that'll buck
We had to tear this muthafucka up so what the fuck!?!
Huh, make it rough!
Yo Muggs, make it rough
Huh, make it rough
Enough

Outro: (*newsreader*)
(Not Guilty verdicts for Stacey Koon, Lawrence Powell, Timothy Wind and
Theodore Briseno, the four officers accused of beating motorist Rodney
King)


Artist: N.W.A
Album: Straight Outta Compton
Song: Fuck Tha Police

Right about now, NWA court is in full effect.
Judge Dre residing in the case of NWA versus the police department.
Prosecuting attourneys are MC Ren, Ice Cube, and Eazy muthafuckin E.
Order, order, order. Ice Cube, take the muthafuckin stand.
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth
and nothin but the truth so help your black ass?
<You're goddamn right!>
Why don't you tell everybody what the fuck you gotta say?
[Ice Cube]
Fuck tha police
Comin straight from the underground
Young nigga got it bad cuz I'm brown
And not the other color so police think
They have the authority to kill a minority
Fuck that shit, cuz I ain't tha one
For a punk muthafucka with a badge and a gun
To be beatin on, and thrown in jail
We can go toe to toe in the middle of a cell
Fuckin with me cuz I'm a teenager
With a little bit of gold and a pager
Searchin my car, lookin for the product
Thinkin every nigga is sellin narcotics
You'd rather see me in the pen
Then me and Lorenzo rollin in the Benzo
Beat tha police outta shape
And when I'm finished, bring the yellow tape
To tape off the scene of the slaughter
Still can't swallow bread and water
I don't know if they fags or what
Search a nigga down and grabbin 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
Cuz they'll slam ya down to the street top
Black police showin out for the white cop
Ice Cube will swarm
On any muthafucka in a blue uniform
Just cuz I'm from the CPT, punk police are afraid of me
A young nigga on the warpath
And when I'm finished, it's gonna be a bloodbath
Of cops, dyin in LA
Yo Dre, I got somethin to say
Fuck tha police
Fuck tha police
Fuck tha police
Fuck tha police....


Artist: 2Pac
Album: Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
Song: Holla if Ya Hear Me

... The punk police can't fade me, and maybe
We can have peace someday, G
But right now I got my mind set up
Lookin down the barrel of my nine, get up
Cause it's time to make the payback fat
To my brothers on the block better stay strapped, black
And accept no substitutes
I bring truth to the youth tear the roof off the whole school
Oh no, I won't turn the other cheek
In case ya can't see us while we burn the other week...
Much love to my brothers in the pen
See ya when I free ya if not when they shove me in
Once again it's an all out scrap
Keep your hands on ya gat, and now ya boys watch ya back
Cause in the alleys out in Cali I'ma tell ya
Mess with the best and the vest couldn't help ya...
To my homies on the block gettin dropped by cops
I'm still around for ya
Keepin my sound underground for ya...
This ain't just a rap song, a black song
Tellin all my brothers, get they strap on
And look for me in the struggle
Hustlin 'til other brothers bubble...
So we live like caged beasts
Waitin for the day to let the rage free
Still me, till they kill me
I love it when they fear me -

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