Ice Cube discussed the inspiration for pioneering West Coast hip-hop group N.W.A.’s classic anti-police brutality anthem “Fuck tha Police” with Rolling Stone yesterday, citing the LAPD’s policy and an all-too-familiar sense of being at war:
With everything going on in the world, do you feel a song like “Fuck tha Police” means more now more than ever?
You know, actually, it don’t. That song is still in the same place before it was made. It’s our legacy here in America with the police department and any kind of authority figures that have to deal with us on a day-to-day basis. There’s usually abuse and violence connected to that interaction, so when “Fuck tha Police” was made in 1989, it was 400 years in the making. And it’s still just as relevant as it was before it was made.
The Straight Outta Compton movie preview shows some tense moments with police. Was there a specific incident that made you write “Fuck tha Police”?
Just harassment. At the time, Daryl Gates, who was the chief of police over at the LAPD, had declared a war on gangs. A war on gangs, to me, is a politically correct word to say a war on anybody you think is a gang member. So the way we dressed and the way we looked and where we come from, you can mistake any kid for a gang member. Any good kid. Some of them dress like gangbangers, and they go to school every day because that’s the fashion in the neighborhood. So to declare that, it meant a war on every black kid with a baseball hat on, with a T-shirt on, some jeans and some tennis shoes. So it was just too much to bear, to be under that kind of occupying force, who was abusive. It’s just, enough is enough. Our music was our only weapon. Nonviolent protest.
Rolling Stone spoke to Ice Cube while he was promoting both the upcoming N.W.A. biopic, “Straight Outta Compton,” (out in theaters on August 14) and a reunion performance with former bandmates MC Ren and DJ Yella at the “BET Experience at L.A. Live” festival. That festival takes place on June 25 and 28 at the Staples Center and also features Kevin Hart, Nicki Minaj, Miguel and The Roots, among others.