Monday, August 23, 2010

Cop Killer

I got my twelve gauge sawed off
I got my headlights turned off
I'm bout to bust some shots off
I'm bout to dust some cops off
- Body Count, Cop Killer

If you are old enough to remember the early 90's, chances are you recall that this little song  got a lot of attention. Not from radio stations, not ones that played music anyway. For moral conservatives, Cop Killer represented everything that was wrong with society.  For others it was a reaction to a corrupt police system.  Still other felt that, subject matter or not, Cop Killer was issue of free speech.

The song was eventually removed from the album.  But for myself, and a lot of my friends who grew up during that era, it still represents the rights of the artists vs social responsibility.

Cop Killer came out when a lot of minds were focused on the issue of police brutality.  Many people had witnessed footage of the beating of Rodney King.  About a month after the album was released, LA would erupt in violence in response to the acquittals of the officers involved.

So what is Cop Killer?  A "protest record"? (A Roc Exclusive: Ice T Speaks Out . .  .). Unlike "story songs", protest songs are a call to action.  And in once case "action" was taken.

While on patrol in July 1992, two Las Vegas police officers were ambushed and shot by four juvenile delinquents who boasted that Ice-T's Cop Killer gave them a sense of duty and purpose, to get even with "a f-king pig". The juveniles continued to sing its lyrics when apprehended.  (The Music of Murder)

So was Body Count telling people to go out and kill police officers, or was it simply a fantasy taken to extremes?

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