Foreign Gists

Revisit when N.W.A became the centre of an FBI investigation


N.W.A are a legendary crew and changed hip hop forever. One of the first hip hop acts to come out of California after Ice-T, N.W.A were the first nationally accepted and respected Californian hip hop act. However, with all the controversy the group caused, they soon found themselves at the centre of an FBI investigation.

Comprised of Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Dr Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella, many would point to N.W.A. as the kings of gangsta rap, as they were the group that brought it to a wider audience and crossed it into the mainstream. With songs such as ‘F*k The Police’ and Eazy-E’s ‘Boyz-N-The-Hood’, N.W.A ended up going nationwide with their music. They were unstoppable with vicious rappers such as Ice Cube and mega-producers such as Dr Dre. 

However, with such a large audience and such influence, the song ‘F*ck Tha Police’ caused grave concern and was not only banned from the radio but saw a letter sent to the crew’s record label, Priority Records. The letter highlighted that “advocating violence and assault is wrong” and concluded with a veiled threat of sorts that read, “music plays a significant role in society and 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. Sincerely yours,” it was signed off by Milt Alheric, the then Assistant Director of the FBI.

Although the group were banned from the radio. They continued to play it in their live performance set. But unbeknownst to them, they had the FBI watching their every move. The FBI had noticed that the crew were set to go on tour, and with public outrage at an all-time high when it came to gangsta rap, the FBI knew that they had to crack down.

The FBI then proceeded to give a final warning to the crew, telling them that ‘F*ck Tha Police’ had to be removed from the setlist for their show backstage at their Detroit show. However, rebellious as ever the defiant crew were desperate to play it. So they did. However, knowing that they would breach their order at some point, the FBI immediately moved in and shut down their show.

N.W.A had been followed and profiled by the F.B.I for the entirety of their tour and were the centre of an FBI investigation as they were seen as producers of propaganda pertaining to violence against law enforcement. Some question whether or not we are seeing the same thing now with rappers having their lyrics used against them in court.

Below you can watch a recreation of the Detroit concert from the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton.