Rappers Vs. Uncle Sam: N.W.A., Eminem, Kanye...
Mike Myers will probably go down in history as the most uncomfortable white guy next to a black guy in TV history, thanks to Kanye West's unscripted outburst during that infamous Hurricane Katrina telethon.
It began with Myers reading his part of the script verbatim. Two-thirds into the PSA, an emotional, nervous, hyperventilating Kanye blurted out: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Mike Myers had this priceless look of disbelief on his face just before NBC's cameras abruptly cut away to an equally dazed Chris Tucker.
But Myers and Tucker weren't the only ones caught off guard by Kanye's outburst. In his memoir Decision Points, published today, Bush cites it as the most disgusting moment of his eight-year presidency. When it comes to rappers who have made government officials squirm in their seat, Kanye is in some good company.
Here's a breakdown of hip-hop's run-ins with the Feds.
5. Eminem vs the FBI
Song: "We As Americans"
Offensive Rhyme: ""Fuck money, I don't rap for dead presidents/ I'd rather see the president dead"
Those rhymes were offensive enough to make the Secret Service go, "Whoa, Marshall." The song was construed as a threat against the president, and immediately drew the unwanted attention of the alphabet boys. Eminem was briefly investigated, but no action was taken.
4. Eminem vs. George W. Bush
Offensive Rhyme: "Let the president answer a higher anarchy/ Strap him with an AK-47, let him go fight his own war/ Let him impress daddy that way."
After musing on a presidential assassination on the aforementioned "We As Americans," Slim Shady launched a full-on attack on Dubya via his 2004 single "Mosh." Eminem released a video for "Mosh" just prior to the 2004 presidential election, replete with images of Bush reading My Pet Goat on 9/11.
His goal was to drum up support for then-Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry. Ehnn... Kerry still got drubbed at the polls.
3. Hip-Hop vs. the "Washington Wives"
The Parents' Music Resource Coalition, or PRMC, was founded by four women: Tipper Gore (wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore), Susan Baker (wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker), Pam Howar (wife of Washington realtor Raymond Howar), and Sally Nevius, (wife of Washington City Council Chairman John Nevius). Wikipedia says they were known as "Washington Wives" to underline their husbands' ties to the federal government. Because you can't just assume such things.
Anyway, Tipper and Co. relentlessly campaigned against profanity in music, particularly rap music, until pottymouth artists found themselves publicly defending the artistic value of "Me So Horny." That, kids, is why we have the Parental Advisory sticker on your favorite rap albums today.
2. 2 Live Crew vs. the State of Florida; U.S. Supreme Court
Song: "Me So Horny"
Offensive Rhyme: "I'm like a dog in heat, a freak without warning/ I have an appetite for sex, 'cause me so horny."
When the raunchy "Me So Horny" from 2 Live Crew's Nasty As They Wanna Be caught the ear of an attorney with ties to the American Family Association, he convinced then-Florida Governor Bob Martinez to label the album obscene. Selling the album became a prosecutable offense. The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where Luke Campbell invoked his First Amendment rights.
The obscenity ruling was overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and 2 Live's records went on to sell like hotcakes.
1. N.W.A. vs. the FBI
Song: "Fuck tha Police"
Offensive Rhyme: "I'm a sniper with a hell of a scope/ Taking out a cop or two, they can't cope with me"
Few rap anthems will ever be as monumental as N.W.A.'s "Fuck thaPolice." It represented the voice of dissent - an attitude of rebellion crystallized into a militant beat and razor-sharp rhymes. More importantly, it punctuated the tension between the LAPD and black youth. The FBI, however, did not appreciate N.W.A.'s inflammatory lyrics.
The feds sent a letter to Ruthless Records, and we're guessing it said nice things about Ice Cube's Jheri curl.
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