Author Jeff Chang: Hip-hop Predicted the L.A. Riots
You write that hip-hop targeted president George H. W. Bush, who was serving at the time.
There was a huge recession beginning in 1991 that preceded the riots. And Death Certificate was dropped right into the middle of this. [Bush] had gone to war in the Persian Gulf in part to draw attention away from the huge decline in the economy and the rising unemployment rate. And of course, this was felt most intensely in the ghettos, in the barrios, and the poor neighborhoods of Los Angeles of predominately young people of color. Bush was a huge target on Death Certificate. He was a huge target on a lot of these records. There was a song out that a rapper named Paris had written called "Bush Killa."
Do you believe NWA's phrase "fuck the police" seeped into the culture?
Yeah, it was deep. The weekend after the riots, there was a huge rally in Koreatown. Like hundreds of thousands of Korean Americans rallied. And their essential message was not "Fuck the police," but was pretty much like that.