Inside the Complicated History of Anti-Cop Anthem ‘Sound of Da Police’
The 1993 song reinvigorated KRS-One’s career — and against all odds became a Hollywood (and police) favorite
In 1992, KRS-One was at a crossroads. After a string of three gold records, his group, Boogie Down Productions, had only sold 250,000 copies of its most recent album, Sex and Violence. He was under industry fire for throwing PM Dawn rapper Prince Be off the stage during a notorious show at New York City’s Sound Factory. Some listeners complained that his music had become too preachy; others questioned his decision to drop a song like “13 and Good.” Meanwhile, BDP itself was coming apart. Other members had sued him for half the ownership of the group, and he’d recently split with his wife, Ms. Melodie, who was also a part of the crew.
Sitting at the Tokyo airport while on tour in support of Sex and Violence, that year, he wrote the lyrics for a new song. He called it “Sound of Da Police.” There wasn’t a particular incident that inspired it. Nothing had occurred between him and the authorities in Japan. The L.A. uprisings had happened earlier that year, but they weren’t consciously on his mind. The song’s inspiration was straightforward and ingrained: generation after generation after generation of Black people experiencing unfair treatment and violence at the hands of the cops.
“When you’re from my hood, from the Bronx, it’s like every day we go get milk, eggs, and fuck the police. We have no respect for that institution at all.”
“It’s just every day, fuck the police, straight up,” says KRS-One, speaking on the phone from his home in Atlanta. “It’s still like that to this very day. July 2020: Fuck the police. When you’re from my hood, from the Bronx, it’s like every day we go get milk, eggs, and fuck the police. We have no respect for that institution at all.”
“Sound of Da Police” wasn’t the first time KRS called out police harassment and criminality in his music. With BDP, he had released…