10 Hip Hop Songs to Help You Cope with the Police Killings in America
The corporate and political masters of America don’t care about us, and it’s obvious. It’s discouraging, but don’t feel alone. We don’t need them. Fuck them! We have each other! So don’t be afraid to connect with members of your community to work towards a solution for this very real problem. It’s one of many social and economic problems in our country, so if you can’t help stop police brutality, please help in building community gardens, art programs, clothing drives, food drives—anything! Support your local businesses, your friends, and your neighbors. If we don’t, who will?
In no particular order, here are 10 songs that will help you deal with the lack of indictments against the policemen who are blatantly killing American citizens everyday.
1. Run – Ghostface Killah feat. Jadakiss
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Iron Man is celebrating the release of his latest album 36 Seasons, but it’s this jewel from 2004’s The Pretty Toney Album that instructs you what to do when the police come around. The gritty backdrop from The Rza sets the tone and Jadakiss from The Lox has the best line of the song, which eerily describes what Eric Garner may have been thinking during his fatal encounter with the cops.
“If they don’t kill me, they gon’ give me a number I can’t do
Rather it be the streets, then jail where I die at
And I’m asthmatic, so I’m lookin’ for somewhere to hide at” – Jadakiss
2. Sound of Da Police – KRS-One
This was one of the earliest hip hop songs I remember listening to, and I have my sister to thank. This song is paramount as it seamlessly blends the musical personas of KRS-One—The Blastmaster and The Teacher. Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone when KRS-One breaks down the similarities between the overseer on the plantations during slavery and an officer in a free society.
“You need a little clarity, check the similarity
The overseer rode around the plantation
The officer is off, patrolling all the nation
The overseer could stop you what you’re doing
The officer will pull you over just when he’s pursuing
The overseer had the right to get ill
And if you fought back, the overseer had the right to kill
The officer has the right to arrest
And if you fight back they put a hole in your chest” – KRS-One
3. Fight the Power – Public Enemy
This is the number one revolutionary hip hop anthem of all time—enough said.
“Elvis was a hero to most,
but he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother fuck him and John Wayne!” – Chuck D and Flava Flav
4. The Enemy – Big L feat. Fat Joe
DJ Premier produced this posthumous song from the late Harlem-based emcee, which features fellow Diggin’ in the Crates member Fat Joe. I’ve read that Big L was adamant about his abhorrent feelings for the NYPD due to his unfavorable experiences with them, however, it wasn’t the police that killed him; it was the jealousy and vengeance in those streets that did. Still, Big L voiced his disdain for police harassment before he left us. Throw your L’s up!
“Now you wanna frisk me and search my ride
Call me all kind of names, try to hurt my pride
You’re just mad cause I’m a young cat, pockets dumb fat
Talking ’bout, “Where the gun at?” I been there and done that
I’m through with that illegal life, I’m staying legit” – Big L
5. Mr. Nigga – Mos Def
Yasin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, dropped jaws with his solo debut album Black on Both Sides. He touched on many social and world issues, but it’s how he documented his everyday struggles as a successful black man on the song “Mr. Nigga” (with the assistance of Q-Tip on the hook) that really opens your eyes.
“The po-po stop him and show no respect
“Is there a problem officer?” Damn straight, it’s called race
That motivate the jake (woo-woo) to give chase
Say they want you successful, but that ain’t the case
You living large, your skin is dark, they flash a light in your face” – Yasin Bey
6. Point of No Return – Immortal Technique
Immortal Technique calls it the “Point of No Return,” but I call it the point where you pull your head out of your ass. There’s an abundance of radical ideologies in this song, and if you’re not prepared to hear it then it can alter your entire world. That was not the case when I heard the song as an 18-year-old kid.
“I started out like Australians, criminal minded
Broke into Hell, tore it down, and built a city behind it” – Immortal Technique
7. Breathe – Nas
Nasty Nas to Escobar to Nastradamus…the Queensbridge poet has crafted the purest hip hop album of all time (Illmatic); he destroyed Jay-Z in the greatest rap battle of all time, and he’s still dropping gems almost 25 years after his debut verse on the Main Source song, “Live @ the BBQ.” In 2008, Nas released his Untitled album—originally titled Nigger—where the mellow anthem “Breathe” puts it best:
“In America you’ll never be free
Middle fingers up, fuck the police
Damn, can’t a nigga just breathe?” – Nas
8. Police State – Dead Prez
Aside from the powerful intro from the Uhuru Movement’s Omaili Yeshitela, the song “Police State” off of Dead Prez’s debut album Let’s Get Free is a poignant description of today’s climate of injustice.
“The average Black male
Live a third of his life in a jail cell
Cause the world is controlled by the white male
And the people don’t never get justice
And the women don’t never get respected
And the problems don’t never get solved
And the jobs don’ never pay enough
So the rent always be late
Can you relate?
We living in a police state” – Dead Prez
9. Fuck the Police – NWA
How else could you earn the reputation of being The World’s Most Dangerous Group?
“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 throwing in jail
We can go toe to toe in the middle of a cell” – Ice Cube
10. Endangered Species (Tales of the Darkside) – Ice Cube feat. Chuck D
Ice Cube leaves NWA and titles his solo debut album AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. He then enlists the help of Public Enemy’s production team, The Bomb Squad, and makes a song with Chuck D. That’s how you used to scare rich, white Americans in the ‘90s, children.
“How the fuck do you figure
That I can say peace and the gunshots will cease?!
Every cop killer goes ignored
They just send another nigga to the morgue!
A point scored- they could give a fuck about us
They rather catch us with guns and white powder!
If I was old, they’d probably be a friend of me
Since I’m young, they consider me the enemy!” – Ice Cube
Photo Credit: Bossip