Body Count is easily one of the best thrash metal bands of all time. But you’ve never heard of them. Why? Because of that incident involving their 1992 song “Cop Killer.”
Ever since then, they’ve been blackballed and ignored and portrayed as “gangsters”, “thugs” and, the thing that White people fear most: Angry Black Men who won’t stand for abuse! Oh no! Black people exercising their right to free speech?? The media can’t allow that!
And they didn’t. The media smeared and besmirched these men until their image was so distorted that they were now relegated to being a simple novelty act. Indeed, Beatmaster V would give even the great Lars Ulrich a run for his money. Yeah. I said it. And I’m standing by it. Pull the tapes. Listen, to the Body Count self-title and compare it with Lars’s work on “And Justice for All” and you be the judge. Go ahead- I’ll wait.
Anyway, the point of this is, how come bands like the Talking Heads can create a song called “Psycho Killer” and bands like Diamond Head can sing about going on a homicidal rampage as they did in “Am I Evil”, Godsmack can create a song called “I Fucking Hate You” and, the coup de grace, Dope can create a song called “Die Mother Fucker” and no one bats an eyelash. Well, if you guessed race card give yourself a pat on the back. Further, Marilyn Manson actually named an album “Antichrist Superstar” but hid under the 1st Amendment tent for the (mild) criticism he received from Capitol Hill and the Christian Coalition. So, I guess that, since Body Count are Black, the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to them? Sure seems that way.
As a White person, I get very annoyed when a disparity in how Black artists are treated in comparison to how White artists are treated rears its ugly head. It then makes me leery of the fact that I might be painted with the same brush as the ignorant masses who created the disparity in the first place and it brings to mind all of the times that White people have stolen from Black artists (Jerry Heller and NWA comes thundering to mind.) However, just because I share the same (lack of) pigment doesn’t mean I’ll share your narrow-minded attitude.
“Cop Killer” was a metaphor. In my interpretation as a scholar of music, It was not advocating killing police officers any more than Johnny Cash was advocating self abuse in “I Hurt Myself.” Further, any one who decides to act on what they heard in the song is an idiot who deserves to be punished to the law’s fullest extent. Hurting others or yourself because you claim a song gave you the idea is lunacy and I dare say (pardon the pun) a total cop-out-not to mention just plain asinine.
I believe Royce da 5′ 9” said it best in the intro “It’s Tuesday” on his 2002 album Rock City 2.0:
Relax-It’s just music.