Music

Decades After Straight Outta Compton, Gov't Still Has Rap In Its Crosshairs

Aspiring rap artists have tried to emulate the success of N.W.A. but end up having their lyrics used against them in court.

|

If you got a letter from the feds telling you they didn't like a song you wrote, what would you do?

That's what happened to gantsa rap group N.W.A. in 1989 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sent a letter to the the group's record label saying the lyrics to "Fuck tha Police," encouraged "violence against and disrespect for the law enforcement officer." Instead of pulling the song from albums and refusing to play it at concerts, N.W.A. went public with the letter and their status as renegade musicans went through the roof.

The incident is dramatized in the summer blockbuster Straight Outta Compton. The film chronicles the emergence of N.W.A. in the late 1980s and early 1990s and has garnered critical praise. But viewers may be surprised to find out that the government still targets aspiring rap artists.

Brandon Duncan's rap name is Tiny Doo and the character he adopted to write and perform songs on his album, No Safety, got him in a lot of trouble with the San Diego District Attorney's Office. The DA's office alleged Duncan conspried to commit a series of gang related shootings around San Diego, but said he was never present at the actual crime. Instead, they said he benefited from the crimes through album sales of No Safety.

"We're not just talking about a CD of anything, of love songs," said San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Anthony Campagna in court. "We're talking about a CD [cover] … There is a revolver with bullets." 

"How can you commit crimes you don't even know about?" Duncan told Reason TV in 2015. "It's not real life, it's just entertainment."

For more of Reason TV's interview with Tiny Doo, watch, "Jailed for Rap Lyrics: Is Rapper Tiny Doo a Murderer or a Musician?"

NEXT: Get Ready for Drones Equipped with Tear Gas

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I think you need to post this video about a dozen more… no a baker’s dozen more times. Yeah that’s the ticket. The thirteenth reposing will definitely be the cham.

    1. The cham? Is that some sort of rap lingo, you deviant?

        1. Are you a donkey on the edge?

    2. “Why Anchorman 2 Straight Outta Compton Is the Most Important Movie of the Year”

      1. Most important movie of the year or of all time?

    3. WHAT’S WITH ALL THE WARRENS?

      1. JOIN US

      2. You weren’t aware of the Warren Clone Army?

        1. You weren’t aware of the Warren Clone Army?

          I prefer Warren Peace.

          1. I figured you for a Warren Commission guy

            1. Every time you sell a Clone Warren you get a commission.

          2. War and Oates, too. Their hit single “Bring Me the Head of The Rappin’ Duke” was some seminal… or at least a discharge.

  2. What does “free” speech get you?
    ASSASSINATION

    1. I would like to point out that no woodchipper was used.

  3. OK, but at least the interns stripped the old comments; give ’em a hand!

    1. Ok. *Slap!*

  4. So governments still haven’t figured out the Comstock Effect, where back in the 1920s “Banned in Boston” stickers increased sales?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banned_in_Boston

  5. “f you got a letter from the feds telling you they didn’t like a song you wrote, what would you do?”

    I would join forces with Ice-“motherfucking”-T, bitch and we would use their hate to simply sharpen our Daily Game

  6. OT: The Guardian declares that

    Libertarian ideology is the natural enemy of science

    There is too much crap in this article to even know where to start, and there is not a new drop of anything interesting, just tired canards. But, let’s just suppose this claim in the title were true: then there would be some negative correlation between personal liberty, and scientific productivity, within a country. Needless to say the opposite is easily demonstrated. QED.

    But of course he’s not actually discussing the claim made in the title of the article — he just rants.

      1. SF’d

        This is not to dismiss the entire political philosophy as bunk, nor to imply all economic liberals exist in a state of abject denial, but we must be wary of allowing any political ideology to blind us to objective reality. Our individual rights must be balanced against the rights of others, which requires a pragmatic interpretation of political philosophies, and some softening of extremist outlooks.

        Buried in the second-to-last paragraph, because shitty polemics are never as fun if you start with your qualifiers.

        Though I do share with him the suspicion that many libertarians’ disbelief in climate change is ideologically motivated.

        1. Global warming has been going on for 11,000 years. It’s conceivable that it has accelerated after the Industrial Revolution. It’s unlikely that we can stop it. Thirty-five years ago, everyone was worried about a new Ice Age. Also, if you really want to reduce your carbon footprint, don’t have kids. The problem is too many people.

    1. Are you aware of his work professionally? Cuz you just know that prick drops the “Do you have a terminal degree in Physics?” card in any confrontation. I want to see you school him, and then when he attempts that, I want to see you smile and say “Actually, yes, I do.”

      1. Ah, I see he is in medical physics like me and in the same country. I wish I felt like I had the time or energy to take on public douchebags like this. In this world there are great science communicators — but the worst of the lot like this guy are always looking to use the media to bash others.

        And his articles with titles like “a scientist’s this” and “a scientist’s that”, weighing in on issues like abortion and climate change in which he has no expertise whatsoever. He is the worst sort of science communicator really.

        And I see he is a lowly post doc. What a pleasure it would be to start publicly critiquing his crap posts for the Guardian. Sadly I would just rather spend that time with family.

    2. We can’t be the lab rats of social science experiments if we are free. There can’t be any variables not under there control. Freedom pisses them off.

      1. I am not the enemy of science. He is right about being his enemy though.

        1. By them I mean “progressives”

    3. Liberty means not having to ask permission or obey orders so long as you don’t harm the life, liberty, or property of another person. So basically it’s chaos. No order at all, because there is no social order without intelligent design. Speaking of intelligent design, creationists are complete idiots. The only possible way life could have emerged is through spontaneous order. But as far as society goes, there must be intelligent design. Those who espouse spontaneous order in society are idiots.

      Yeah. Progressives are so consistent.

    4. buddingBuddha

      Organised crime epitomises free market fundamentalism. Organised crime pursues money and power but has no consideration for ethics, morals, life, consequences or laws.

      1. Well, since some bozo makes that claim, why it must be true! Ask Tony.

    5. “The expectation that private companies can be trusted to innovate health care is also misguided. “

      yeah, it really only takes one sentence to grasp how down the rabbit hole this moron is.

      He spends the first 7 paragraphs moaning about ideological obstructionism of “climate action”…

      …and never one mentions a single “climate action” policy.

      which is the M.O. of idiots like Jackand, Tony as well. They simply groan and make dramatic complaints about the “Deniers” getting in the way….. of….. something…. but its an IMPORTANT something!! Because *climate*. And science!. Which is why SOMETHING is necessary.

      They never say what the something is, or why it is urgently necessary, or what its apparent and obvious benefits are. Because they don’t have fuck-all of an argument for the policy…. be it Keystone, or Carbon Taxes, or Solar Power or whatever. They’re all shitty ideas that they’re unwilling to defend, so they stick to the Ad Hominems of the Obstructionists.

  7. I am not exactly sure what is going on with the Tiny Doo case.

    Tiny was not present at the crime scene, is not personally acquainted with the shooters or victims, and has no knowledge of the crime until after it happened. Is that right?

    What exactly drew the attention of the DAs office to Tiny? Also, how can this be construed as anything other than a frontal assault on the first amendment?

    This case has zero chance of being successful. It seems like it has a good chance of losing the DA his office in the next election though.

    1. The process is the punishment.

      1. But why him? Did they just pick him randomly as a test case? Did he do something to piss them off, other than make bad music?

        1. I’m guessing someone reported him. That’s usually how it works.

  8. “We’re talking about a CD [cover] ? There is a revolver with bullets.”

    Uh huh. What about 38 Special? Molly Hatchet? The Beatles album Revolver? The Sex Pistols? That is just right off of the top of my head. Whoever defends Tiny Doo could spends days on end showcasing all of the other bands and album covers with gun/weapon themes.

  9. Yea, or nay?

    In an interview with CNN on Thursday, the father of the slain 24-year-old WDBJ reporter said he would be “the John Walsh of gun control” and vowed not to rest “until I see something happen.”

    But on Friday, Mr. Parker told reporters that he is “probably going to have to get a gun” to protect himself after raising the issue of gun control in the media.

    “When you’re in the media, as you know, and when you are taking on an issue like this, there are a lot of people who take exception to what you are saying, so I will probably have to do that,” Mr. Parker said, the Guardian reported.

    Mr. Parker said he does not currently own a gun but added “I don’t want to take any chances.”



    This unhinged person wants a gun to “protect” himself from gun owners whose lawfully owned guns he proposes to steal.

    1. It is no surprise really. The first and second amendments are first and second because of their importance and thus they are the ones most despised and most frequently attacked.

      I have heard all of the same old bullshit over and over from gun grabbers. It is pointless to argue with them. My answer: Fuck you. No.

      1. Anyone who believes that society would be safer if the only people with legal guns are cops and soldiers is stupid, ignorant of history, delusional, a totalitarian, or some combination thereof.

        1. A quick glance at the current crime problem in England should be all one needs to see that gun control is a disaster.

          I cannot fathom how anyone could be a proponent of gun control.

          1. It’s a delusional belief in the magic of good intentions. Results need not apply.

    2. “the John Walsh of gun control” and vowed not to rest “until I see something happen.”

      As far as I know, it’s been almost 25 years since the first episode of America’s Most Wanted and we still have people committing felonious crimes.

      1. But he’s still making money. Doing commercials for lifelock or something.

    3. Progressives until a few days ago: “You don’t know what it’s like to be black in such a racist country! Don’t ridicule the idea of microaggressions; you’re speaking from a position of privilege! White supremacy has declared war on black bodies! Black people have a right to be scared and angry!”

      Progressives now: “This guy was obviously so mentally unbalanced he shouldn’t have been allowed to buy a gun. I mean, he obsessed about his race, had problems with white co-workers, and saw even seemingly harmless words as insults! What kind of black person acts like that? A crazy one, that’s who!”

      1. Progressives are not known for consistency or intellectual honesty. It’s all about whatever they feel at any particular moment.

        1. Logic and consistency are dead white male tools of oppression!

      2. “This guy was obviously so mentally unbalanced he shouldn’t have been allowed to buy a gun. I mean, he obsessed about his race, had problems with white co-workers, and saw even seemingly harmless words as insults!”

        That describes 90% of all progressives on Facebook and twitter.

      3. What sarcasmic said.

        Many times I have had people recoil in horror or disbelief when I said that feelings are not a good gauge of anything or useful for making decisions. Their usual argument is that my life must be boring because I am not at the mercy of my feelings. I always point out, and it is invariably the case, that people who are at the mercy of their feelings have train wrecks for lives.

        1. Their usual argument is that my life must be boring because I am not at the mercy of my feelings.

          Well, they do have a point. When you base your decisions on what you feel instead of engaging your brain and thinking like a rational human being, then your life will indeed be more interesting. It will be an interesting and tumultuous roller-coaster ride of moving from crises to crisis that you bring onto yourself as a result of acting irrationally upon your feelings. If my choice is between rational boredom and that, then I emphatically choose boredom.

          1. Can not agree enough with what both of you said.

          2. “…tumultuous roller-coaster ride of moving from crises to crisis…”

            Yeah. Like I said, a train wreck, one that never ends.

    4. If irony was fatal he would have spontaneously combusted.

    5. “the John Walsh of gun control””

      I read that as “Joan Walsh” (shudder)

    6. Which is why we should be using woodchippers, not guns, to deal with such tyrants.

  10. Rap was always a racist art form anyway. Rap achieved its greatest success after it replaced heavy metal as the number one way middle class white kids shock their parents. Gangster rap has always been nothing but a minstrel show. NWA was the original pet scary Negros of the white upper class. That is all they ever were. Their music never changed anything. It never brought attention to anything that people didn’t already know. All NWA and those who followed them ever did was make money for record execs dancing a jig for white record buyers. If NWA has a legacy it is that a black artist can make a whole lot of money dehumanizing yourself confirming every negative stereotype white people have about blacks. White people listened to NWA the same way they pay to gawk at lions in the zoo.

    And shame on any hipster doofus who doesn’t understand that and waxes poetic about how edgy and relevant they were. Edgy and relevant to whom? Dumb ass white people who would never so much as drive through a black neighborhood and would call the cops on the first black person they saw in theirs?

    1. its just music, John.

      1. Sure it is. And so were minstrel shows.

        1. you’re right, public enemy, brand nubian and xclan were all al-jolson entertainment for white people. all rap is just Step & Fetchit racial self-abuse. you should really be a musicologist john, your wisdom is wasted on us.

            1. Then of course there’s the lesser-known subgenre of Educational Rap

      2. Early rap was mostly about having a good time. It was dance music, meant for the clubs and the streets. See Planet Rock, The Roof is on Fire, Rapper’s Delight.

        While I think there is certainly some middle class white shock the parents/be cool stuff to it, I think it mostly preys upon the black community.

        Instead of telling kids to stay in school, study and get a good job in engineering, it glorifies being in a gang, being on welfare and yet at the same time, praises consumerism – guns, sneakers, and now headphones.

        It’s like the reverse of the Stones Satisfaction. Rap music is telling kids they aren’t really men if they don’t have the right sneakers, the right headphones and don’t own a gun.

        Dr Dre in particular is a scumbag with those Beats headphones.

        1. You obviously listen to lots and lots of rap music.

  11. Maybe RAP doesn’t have the correct amount of cop love lyrics?

    1. About once a year NPR does a story about the youths in some oppressive shit hole finding their voice through hip hop. Apparently, nothing makes the stupid white people who listen to NPR happier than knowing the exotic brown people are expressing themselves through hip hop. I don’t think them using hip hop to praise cops would have the same effect.

  12. If I make a concept record about how I lab to kill Nick Gillespie and his jacket too, then I am accused of doing just that, I am pretty sure the state would not be punishing me for my art when they use my concept record against me at trial. That is all that is happening in these cases

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.