NWA changed everything. Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella—NWA was a Who’s Who of Rap. And this song changed everything, giving a new expression to how these young Black men viewed policing. It’s a first exclamation that things were messed up, and that the police were militarizing Black neighborhoods without regard to the people who lived in them.
And the victims of that policing were not going to take it anymore.
The song pissed off all sorts of people. But when you think about it, if you are powerless, the first step may be to cry out against the power that holds you down. In the song, Dre, MC Ren, and Eazy-E “testify” about their case against racist policing by putting the police on trial. The song gave voice to communities of color in a way that may have been hard to understand to some then, but easier to understand now.
Fuck the police comin’ 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 beatin’ on, and thrown in jail
We can go toe to toe in the middle of a cell
Fuckin’ with me ’cause I’m a teenager
With a little bit of gold and a pager=
Maybe you have to be pulled over a few times for no reason other than your age or the color of your skin to feel it, but in this incendiary track NWA captured the pain and outrage of young Black men all over America.