WARNING LYRICS NSFW!
N.W.A., the revolutionary rap group which famously sang “Fuck tha Police,” has been nominated for a second time to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. N.W.A.’s album Straight Outta Compton had the distinction of being one of the early adopters of the Parental Advisory label
WARNING: Moderate impact coarse language and/or themes.
N.W.A., their record label, Ruthless, and distributor Priority also received a letter from the FBI, raising Congressional and free speech advocates’ eyebrows. N.W.A’s lyrics, which laid out life in Compton, including sex, drugs and violence, enraged ninny-brained sandy-pantied busybodies Focus on the Family. In 1989, the uber-uptight conservative group pressured FBI assistant director of the FBI office of public affairs, Milt Ahlerich, into sending a letter advising the rappers that
advocating violence and assault is wrong and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action…I wanted you to be aware of the FBI’s position relative to this song and its message. I believe my views reflect the opinion of the entire law enforcement community.
When informed of the letter from Ahlerich, Rep. Don Edwards (D-CA, San Jose), chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on civil and constitutional rights, charged with monitoring FBI actions regarding U.S. citizens, responded:
The FBI should stay out of the business of censorship…We’re going to try to find out more about this letter.
According to Rolling Stone “Fuck tha Police”
became subject of an intense fax campaign among local police departments, with the lyrics transmitted to cops in cities where NWA toured. The number was deliberately excluded from the tour’s regular set list.
In some cities, police refused to provide security at venues hosting the group, affecting N.W.A.’s ability to tour. But the controversy only helped N.W.A. which went on score platinum success with Straight Outta Compton. Their influence, lyrically and musically, has influenced music over the past three decades.
KISS, one of the world’s best selling rock bands, and also up for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, saw controversy in the late 1970s and 80s. Some parents freaked out that the band’s name was an acronym for “Knights in Satan’s Service,” KISS, who performed in full face makeup and leather and sang phallocentric songs about “love gun” and the notorious “Plaster Caster” groupies, probably did freak out a few folks when they added a vial of band members’ blood to the ink used to print the first edition of their comic book. But seriously, how scary is a band who recorded “Beth“ and whose faces are on lunch boxes? On Hello Kitty lunchboxes, to boot! In Germany, where the lightning bolt double S is banned because it evokes Nazism, KISS uses a double Z. Like N.W.A., KISS has been nominated before.
A band is eligible for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the commercial release of their first single. Credited with popularizing grunge music and the slacker lifestyle (now known as “hipster” and practiced by many who were not even in elementary school let alone born during the band’s formative years), Nirvana released “Love Buzz” on Seattle’s SubPop Records in 1988. Nirvana’s success on Geffen Records, coupled Cobain’s turbulent life with wife Courtney Love and subsequent suicide have made him a rock and roll an-hero.
Other nominees include The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, LL Cool J, The Meters, The Replacements, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Link Wray, Yes, and The Zombies.
A group of more than 600 music industry members, including all living Hall of Fame members, other musicians, executives, journalists and critics vote. Fan votes are also included; the top five bands on the public’s vote will constitute a “fan’s ballot” that will be included in the final vote count. You can vote through December 10 here: rockhall.com/vote. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony will be in April 2014 and broadcast at a later date on HBO.