This week America is celebrating -- although that might not be precise terminology for such a dubious occasion -- the 20th anniversary of the Nicole Brown Simpson murders, in which the ex-wife of NFL Hall of Famer/actor O.J. Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death in the overnight hours of June 13, 1994. A few days later, O.J. opted to flee in a white Ford Bronco driven by his friend Al "A.C." Cowlings rather than surrender to police, touching off a nationally televised low-speed police chase that was eventually seen by an estimated 95 million people in the U.S. (Rockets fans might remember Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals versus the Knicks being interrupted by the chase; Houston lost the game but took the next two to win the city's first major-league sports championship since the 1961 Houston Oilers.)
After a couple of hours on the Southern California freeways Simpson returned home (or was escorted by cops), gave himself up and was ultimately acquitted in October 1995 after a trial lasting more than eight months. Today so many people remember their exact whereabouts upon learning the verdict that the event has been likened to the JFK assassination a generation before. Although public opinion about the trial has always been sharply divided (and split uncomfortably along racial lines, then and now), it's difficult to deny that the whole Simpson affair -- from fans holding "Run, O.J., Run" banners on freeway overpasses during the chase to the 24-7 coverage of the trial that set the contentious tone of cable news to this day -- held up a funhouse mirror to American society that showed us more than we really wanted to know.
Naturally, this all filtered into pop culture almost instantly. Oliver Stone spliced a few frames of the chase into his Natural Born Killers, which hit movie theaters about six weeks after Simpson's arrest. The late Tupac Shakur rapped the line "free like O.J. all day" on his song "Picture Me Rollin'"; its 1996 parent album, All Eyez On Me, was released a scant four months after the verdict. Shakur would be dead within a year, but lyrical references to O.J. would never stop.
Indeed, once we started looking, it did not take long at all to find a host of them, varying from comical to reprehensible. One is barely two months old. Another is by O.J. himself.
"Cuffin'," Cam'Ron (2010)
Homie, you can have her I don't wanna marry her Like O.J. Simpson, i just wanna stab her Like O.J. the Juiceman, i'm flier than a sparrow
"Get Juiced," O.J. Simpson (2008)
Don't you know there's no stopping the Juice When I'm on the floor I'm like a lion on the loose Better shoot me with a tranquilizer dart Don't be stupid, I'm not a Simpson named Bart
* -- before his December 2008 incarceration on several felony counts, including kidnapping, assault and robbery, Simpson released "Get Juiced" to promote a Punk'd-style video of pranks and stunts he had made. We only wish we were making that up.
"The Hop," A Tribe Called Quest (1996)
Now that I got that out my system Watch me stab up the track as if my name was O.J. Simpson
"I'm In It," Kanye West (2013) Rapped by Agent Sasco:
We ago smile 'pan court day Because we beat murder charge like O.J.
"Marvin's Room (remix)," Lil Wayne (2011)
I ain't a killer but don't push me. I O.J. Simpsoned that pussy
"Matanando Gueros (Killing Whiteys)," Brujeria (1997)
Killing whiteys -- Long live the Mexican race!!! Killing whiteys -- Like the n****, O.J. Simpson!!!
* -- originally recorded in 1993; Simpson lyric was added for a 1997 7-inch single.
"O.J.," Young Jeezy (2011)
Kinda hard when you're sleeping on Dolce Wake up drinkin Rose Killin' that white bitch, O.J.
"O.J. Simpson," Nick Cannon feat. Polow da Don & Amba Shepherd (2014)
We killin' the club O.J. Simpson
"O.J. Simpson (Tribute 2 the White Girl Mob)," Magneto Dayo (2013)
I got my O.J. gloves on O.J. gloves I got my O.J. gloves on Yeah I keep that white girl that Marilyn Monroe But you gon' fuck around and make me turn you to Nicole
List continues on the next page.
"Picture Me Rollin'." Tupac Shakur (1996)
Picture me rollin' n****, legit Free like O.J. all day You can't stop me
"The Playboy Mansion," U2 (1997)
If O.J. is more than a drink, a Big Mac bigger than you think If perfume is an Obsession, then talk shows confession What have we got to lose?
"Stronger," Kanye West (2007)
You know how long I've been on you? Since Prince was on Appolonia Since O.J. had Isotoners
* -- an ill-fitting Isotoner glove was a key point in Simpson's defense, immortalized in attorney Johnnie Cochrane's line, "if it don't fit, you must acquit." One of Simpson's other defense attorneys was the late Robert Kardashian, aka Kanye's biological father-in-law.
"These Are Our Heroes," Nas (2004)
Keep gettin' accused for abusin' White pussy From O.J. to Kobe, uh let's call him Tobe* First he played his life cool just like Michael Now he rock ice too just like I do
* -- a reference to Alex Haley's multigenerational slavery-themed novel, Roots
Track 4 (Go DJ Freestyle)," Kendrick Lamar (2013)
A baller slash killer like O.J. Simpson
"Virginia," Clipse (2002)
In Virginia, we smirked at that Simpson trial Yeah, I guess the chase was wild But what's the fuss about? See, plenty my partners feelin' like O.J. Beat murder like the shit is OK
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