11. N.W.A. "Fuck Tha Police" (1988)
Producer: Dr. Dre, DJ Yella
Album: Straight Outta Compton
Label: Ruthless, Priority, EMI Records
"Fuck Tha Police" remains the single most powerful political statement in hip-hop history, precisely because it came from a group that had absolutely no political pretensions. While Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions had self-conscious political agendas, these five young men from South Central Los Angeles—barely out of their teens—spoke the truth of their experience without regard for its place in a larger dialogue.
Their message was immediate and enraged, and it was imperative that they speak it because it was imperative to their lives and their existence, and that self-concern alone was enough. The difference between "Fucka Tha Police" and, say, Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" is the difference between what Rosa Parks did and what Martin Luther King did. One took a stand on behalf of an aggrieved nation; one took a stand on behalf of herself, simply because she was sick and tired of the injustice.
N.W.A.'s signature song is still venomous, and Dre's furious beat is the torpedo in which all that juice is contained. There is so much gasoline in this song that the fires it started have not yet stopped burning.