There are some subjects that popular music will never tire of, themes that speak across our experiences, like love and heartbreak and the heinous violence of police brutality. Alright, maybe that last one isn’t universal, but it’s certainly inspired some great tracks. Here are ten of the best songs about the cops, and probably the only good things to be sparked by the boys in blue.
1. Police Officer – Smiley Culture
South London reggae legend, Smiley Culture (RIP), was killed in his home in 2011, after police stormed his house. Almost 30 years earlier he had the foresight to record his own cracking anti-police anthem, about getting off on a drug charge with an autograph ‘cos the copper was a fan of his music.
2. The Beast – Fugees
The Score is so full of hits that you might have missed The Beast, an impressive catalogue of police brutality along with some words of wisdom about how to evade the fuzz without getting nicked. Not sure what’s the bit in the Chinese takeaway at the end is about, but it’s a great track.
3. Fuck da Police – NWA
#3 is a classic that needs no explanation…
4. Routine Check – Mitchell Brothers
So London that that they’re named after Grant and Phil off Eastenders, The Mitchell Brothers expose the racism of socalled ‘routine checks’.
5. Sound of Da Police – KRS-One
Whoop whoop, in at #5 is KRS-One with those unforgettable sirens.
6. New York City Cops – The Strokes
Sometimes even white boys get in on the action, like New York City Cops by The Strokes, that got pulled as an album track as it was deemed inappropriate to release just after 9/11.
7. I Shot the Sheriff – Bob Marley
Popularised by Eric Clapton’s lukewarm cover, Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff has a surreal bent to get around the powers that be. He explains ‘I want to say “I shot the police” but the government would have made a fuss so I said “I shot the sheriff” instead… but it’s the same idea: justice.’
8. Yours and my children – Akala
Rising star Akala’s plea for unity highlights police brutality as a global problem.
9. Police on My Back – Asian Dub Foundation
The Clash’s version of Police on My Back (written by Eddy Grant) gets a tabla intro and some jungle hype in this cover by Asian Dub Foundation and Zebda
10. 911 is a joke – Public Enemy
When shit goes down, why not call the cops? Public Enemy explain…
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