1989: The F.B.I. vs Compton’s N.W.A.
It’s no surprise musically, N.W.A. is a controversial gangsta rap group. On August 9, 1988, N.W.A. released their protest song Fuck tha Police, written by Ice Cube, the song sparked a lot of mixed reactions worldwide, even an Australian radio station, Triple J was banned from playing the song so they went on strike and played N.W.A’s “Express Yourself” continuously for 24 hours.
The controversy from the song made LAPD police decline to provide security at N.W.A. shows, and it got to the point where on August 1, 1989, Milt Ahlerich, then Assistant Director of the FBI office of public affairs to send a letter to Eazy-E’s label Ruthless Records, through the parent company and distributor Priority Records. The letter warned N.W.A. ‘Fuck tha Police’ was advocating for violence by stating; “advocating violence and assault is wrong and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action.” and he made it clear his views also “entire law enforcement”.
I wanted you to be aware of the FBI’s position relative to this song and its message. I believe my views reflect the opinion of the entire law enforcement community.Milt Ahlerich, August 1, 1989
The letter from the F.B.I. helped popularize N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton album and N.W.A. would later state that their music is not an advocation or promotion for violence but telling their stories and art. A lot of people saw this as the FBI trying to censor music and hinder art, which sparked a lot of pieces and more conversations worldwide on artist censorship. Dr. Dre responded to the FBI letter in N.W.A.’s 1990’s “100 Miles and Runnin’” single, rapping “my temper was too quick and now the FBI is all over my dick!” even relating the music video to the controversy. and the same year Eazy-E would do the same on “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted”, rapping “With a pay-off, cop gotta lay off, FBI on my dick, stay off”.
It’s funny that years later not a lot has changed. Some of the same things that inspired the protests back then were the same as the police brutality that inspired the Black Lives Matter movement today.