« Slow Burn

S3 Ep. 2: Cops on My Tail


In 1992, Ronald Ray Howard shot and killed Texas state trooper Bill Davidson. His lawyer argued he’d been driven to murder by the music he’d been playing in his car: a dubbed copy of Tupac Shakur’s first album, 2Pacalypse Now

On the second episode of Slow Burn’s third season: How gangsta rap and law enforcement found themselves at war. 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This podcast has language that some people might find offensive run. A grey Howard grew up in South Park itself, neighborhood in Houston. He described it as a war zone like to Portugal, He moved around a lot as a child Howard attended indifferent elementary schools and was held back three times when he was sixteen. He dropped out of high school Howard ended up selling drugs and the town of Portland Vodka, two hours down the Gulf Coast from Houston, that's where he was headed the night of April, eleventh Nineteen. Ninety two: when it Texas Highway Patrol and pulled him over how it was a fan of law enforcement. This is Alan Tanner, a criminal defence lawyer, here is a young kid from Houston who had Problems with police and his neighborhood were allowed to the kids were brought up. There. Hey cops to begin with. How would had another reason to be wary? He was a drug
Deal driving a stolen car, the patrol, when who pulled Howard over was named, build Davidson he'd been in force for about twenty years. He, his wife Linda hid race to children in the town of Edna population. Fifty five hundred were you the City council, member and the president of the little league? is Davidson Approach, run a re how its car, were shot him in the neck. With a nine Millimeter pistol Davidson? three days later. Howard was arrested not long after he fled the scene. He confessed to the crime soon after, in most Kay is the murder of a highway patrol and would have remained a local tragedy but the killing of building its and became a national story, one that would Change the shape of the music industry: that's because of the cost
tape that was playing and run away, how its car a dubbed copy of two pockets. Now, how did gangsta RAP push American to confront police brutality? How was fear of games? the rapporteur used to prevent a reckoning with police violence, and would it we believe that rap music, a term black listeners into cop killers, this slow burn, em, Droll Anderson, the cap's in America, actually kill. Kids, a rap music promotes violence against the thirty and, consequently, violence against law enforcement awaited LAPD with operating. They need to get killed. I'm about that, but some shots off. I'm about to dust. Some cops are episode, two cups,
Mattel,. In the summer of nineteen eighty nine, a spokesman for the FBI Centre, on page letter to the LOS Angeles office of priority records. The New York Times said the letter was historic, Until then, the bureau had never taken an affair the position on a work of art. The work of art in question was the song fuck the police by the rap group in W a short for niggers with attitudes, milk, all rich assistant, director of the FBI's off public affairs accused in February and priority records of encouraging violence and disrespect for law enforcement. He noted that seventy eight officers have been killed. The line of duty and nineteen eighty eight- and he said I believe my This reflects the opinion of the entire law enforcement community. No doubt fuck, the police was provocative
their lyrics, the members of individual fantasize about retaliation. Why I will end with a young man. Went up, it's gonna, be a sign in your draft Gus and I was a loose fraternity of wrappers and DJ from Southern California. The group's leader easy and stars were doktor drain ice cube together. They created, on profane music from the things they saw, their neighborhood gangs guns in drugs fuck, the police was there bonds to decades of racist abuse, particularly the gang sweeps. It become common and southern California. Police said they were true, stop the drug trade and gang violence. But many residents, especially the black and brown, once called it racial profiling. When India
Ways Debut album straight out, a Compton came out in August nineteen. Eighty eight, it didn't get much radio play empty, we wouldn't air their video rolling stone dead. Publish a review most of the groups early Came from local shows, autograph sessions and small black owned record stores not long after the album caught on with black hip hop fans across over the white audiences. A priority record salesman called straight out a Compton illicit forbidden fruit for junior high students. Obviously somebody is listening in just six weeks. Straight out, Compton has gone gold selling more than half a million copies Ruby his teenagers and hip hop hands, went the only people paying attention. Local police departments, facts the lyrics, a fuck, the police from city to city me, officers refused to work security in debate concerts, which made it difficult for promoters to book. The group at a concert ended nineteen, eighty nine, the members of w, I would say star stage by police after performing a few lines of the song, the controversy.
In a lot of news coverage. Many in law enforcement fear that end of your ways, rap, enticing youngsters into crime by glamorizing street gang and making police out to be the bad guys, who let everybody noted black people, is fair, hidden, harassed by the police and can be bought all that attention and positive and negative health NWA national sensation, DR dot Dre, think all for writing the FBI letter. You it s a lot of money. He said the next three years, few other rap artist, did and drawing attention to police brutality in such an intense way. Then, March one. Ninety one police abuse reached millions of american living rooms. The three police officers facing felony criminal charges were among a group of fifteen who stopped a twenty five year old black man last Saturday night then beat him, kicked him and clubbed him unaware that an amateur photographer was recording the incident on videotape, whilst
The beating of Rodney King was accorded by a resident who sent the tape to a local tv station. It was one of the first widely seen videos of police brutality anyway whatever it is. We called viral and the nineteen nineties, to his released from jail. Last night, twenty five year old Rodney came out his injury to reporters, the bruises, broken leg and the sky. From a stun gun, filled him with valuable shocks. I guess after the first three good that links with. Why you no longer that shocker in the next without the Billy cloak US face. I was there. For decades, members of minority communities had argued a police brutality was under reported. The writing, Video was evidence if they were right after the tape came out. Wrappers joint silver,
its activists in leading a national conversation about police brutality. Their music also took on a new urgency. While America reckoned with Rodney King video Tupac, was putting together Solo debut typical: it's now Tupac wrapped about police harassment. Tell throughout the album One thousand nine hundred and ninety one interview with Davey D, a Bay area hip, hop journalist. He explained his relentless focus on police violence Some situated, I show as having the power and other situation, also has its moors to happen with the police sure, with power structures have an ultimate I'll show. The I shall wait, I'm really happened and waited. I wish it could be. The first single fronts apocalypse now was called trapped in the lyrics to
fantasized about getting revenge on the officers who harassed her. They got me to barely both the City council Rascally Swimming and ask him to answer me up against the wall. Do one thing it all telling you what data for a few weeks after the song was released, the story from trapped became very real for Tupac or not over 17th. Ninety ninety one tupac was crossing the street and Town Oakland, when two policemen stopped him they occur. From jaywalking and asked to see his idea in the police report offers has referred to. Buzz middle name, Amara and column angry and hostile. They said Tupac told them. This is just to why cups, who want to stop a nigger I am here today with my client Tupac pop more shock here as well in a press conference but a month later, Tupac told his side of the story. Next thing. I know my face was being bullied into the car
and I was late face down in the gutter waken up, an unconscious and costs Would the latter my face and I'm going to jail, resisting arrest? That's harassment to me. That I had to be stopped in the Middle EAST and checked like we're South Africa and ask them I did. I was a boy with Tupac suit. All department for ten million dollars, alleging false arrest and imprisonment. The case eventually settled for reported forty two thousand. On the same day to park filed a complaint against Oakland police November twelve Ninety ninety one to pocket lives now appeared record stores, it was the first major. Release for inner scope records which partly owned by Warner. Music group to populist now was no best seller. It peaked at number, sixty four, the billboard hot two hundred, but would it lacked a commercial success? It made a forest social residence Tupac wrapped about the plagues of poverty and violence.
In his righteous anger at the police carried echoes of his black Panther lineage Tupac till billboard. Using the album was like a battle cry the police to pay much attention to two polyps. Now the record that set off the next battle between hip hop in Cops wasn't rapid. All it was a heavy metal album put out by iced tea. I see was one of the first gangster wrappers. His landmark song six in the morning name for the LAPD's early, a battering, ram raids, help to find a genre in the MID Nineteen eightys, but I see was also a fan of thrash metal In nineteen ninety he formed a metal ban. With his high school friend Ernie, see I sang and wrote the lyrics which cover the same street level subjects he wrapped about. They called the ban body count first album released in March nineteen. Ninety two featured the songs K, K, K, Bitch Eve
dick and Mama's gotta to night, but the one that caused all the fuss was the last one the album. What's in that we get a cup killer, Mention the king, by name and also named checked LAPD Chief Darrow Gates. I see called it a protest on Body Council album released by Warner Brothers records, didn't talk, the charts, here's dance harness who wrote about rap for the source and sign hip, hop acts for, labels. What happens is this album comes out, and it's really not that successful commercially?
It's a media event. You know in terms of ice, he's, doing a heavy metal thing, that's cool, but it's not really get an airplane, Then the verdict came in after the release of body, count the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted of alma all charges, the jury's decision ignited one of the biggest race rights in american history. Since darkness fell last night, the city of angels has been a perfect vision of hell with sweat, mallet tat already knew by dozens of beads strip. An auto part store some sick Christmas has exposed the worst in all of them, mighty to at last
Angelo is ignited by the fires of rights, starting a war of words over justice in America that fail that jury, and we may Valley gave me ok to continue to abuse and oppress, and the red black people in that country. In the midst of the riots news media turned to ice tea, to explain what was happening in LOS Angeles or young rap. Physicians have some ideas of their own about what caused the dead, the violence. We desperately needed attention down here and we try to explain it to people, but nobody wants to listen. We would like the voices from down here in the hood yelling out to people on the rap record. Interview a tv anchor and allay asked iced tea to do something to stop the riots, but you refuse to play that role.
Honestly say that defining how this money in my pocket- and I wasn't who I was- that I wouldn't be there- be there to said when the fires died down. Sixty three people were dead in nearly twenty four hundred were injured police. It made twelve thousand arrest estimates of the average rent drain as high a billion dollars, and thanks to cop killer, I see was one of the public faces of the violence and destruction. If you're, looking to reduce unnecessary trips out and trying to
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roasted salmon with me, so glazed eggplant and black been to study the blow with cabbage slaw on guacamole. You can order from any meals across their menu skipper weak whenever you need to or even double on your favorites. It's simple and easy, with no gushes right. No some basket is offering thirty five dollars off your order. When you go right now to some basket dot com, slash slow burn and enter promo code, slow burn at check out that some basket dot com, slush slow burn and enter promo code slower and for thirty five dollars off your order. Son basket, dot com, slush, slow burn and enter promo code, slow burn in the weeks after the riots, a Dallas police officer came across the body. Count album one of his teenage daughter friends had brought it over. The officer got the lira
cop killer printed in his police unions newsletter next to a call for a boycott of time Warner products. If we want this pulled from the record stores, it read we're going to have to make it happen ourselves soon the campaign expanded to police unions nationwide his dance harness. This jeopardizes all of tat mourners upcoming business in getting cable franchises all over the country and then nationwide police unions begin to join with Texas, because all I'm are sort of like on the defence after the Ellie, I it's in the Ronnie King thing, so their basically trying to themselves. As the victim see. You know, people don't have respect for police, it's the same thing as saying Blue, lives matter today. The protests from law enforcement got the attention of elected officials including those on time Warner sown turf. The LA city
so in county board, adopted motions condemning iced tea and the label caliph. The attorney General Dan Lungren sent letters to record stores, urging them to stop selling the record. The national rifle station promised to give legal assistance to the family of any police officer, shot or killed. If it could be shown that the violence was incited by cop killer. Sixty members Congress signed a letter to Time Warner, calling cop killer, vile, a despicable and then as President Dan Quayle got involved. Take, for example, the work of the wrapper iced tea, well was speaking at a convention of police officers who are involved in, Anti Drug Programme, I am sure, you're all failure by now, with ice, tease record driven by time, Warner, which says that it's ok to kill, cops,
time Warner Defence- is that this is free speech and it s constitution. Well, of course, we all believe in free speech and it may be constitutional That doesn't make it right. It is wrong for Time Warner Corporation to do what it's doing. These were calls for censorship of a single record from local state and federal officials, their application, music might cause listeners to murder police officers. I see in his defenders, tried to keep the focus on the reality of police abuse rather than hypothetical violence against but here he is being interviewed on Australian TV and ninety. Ninety two american people are really are up in arms. About this saw, which doesn't kill, is just a saw. The cap, sir, and in America, actually kill kids. This is a very angry saw
song about rage. Ok, but I understand that you said this in: One of you: U S, interviews, I've got no trouble with killing brutal cops. True, they have no trouble with killing what they consider brutal kids see. My attitude is that just by because you have a badge, doesn't give you the right to murder me for time Warner defended the rapper in the song and it June one thousand nine hundred and ninety two op ed in the Wall Street Journal, CEO, Van COD caught killer, a shout of pain in protest and asked why critics couldn't he would rapid trying to tell us everything. Named after the company's annual shareholders, meaning that me, was held in July at a hotel, Beverly Hills outside sharing Those were met by nearly a hundred police officers with picket signs,
Sea cruised, buying, arose rolls Royce and gave the protest in cops. The finger inside the hotel boycott support is brought in the big guns, the actor Charlton Heston. Who'd become a right wing activists and prominent member. Then I was there to speak. Here's Heston recur his performance. Years later I asked For the floor, do a hushed room with a thousand average american stockholders. I simply read the full lyrics of COP Keller: every vicious vulgar dirty. I got my twelve gauge sawed off I got my headlights turned off, I'm about to but some shots off. I'm about to dust. Some cops following Heston time Warner members heard from two officers who had been shot in the face and disfigured. After the meeting the Burbank headquarters, Warner Brothers Records is under siege exam
It is with some with hate mail and receive threatening phone calls bomb threats, force police to clear the building, eventually ice. Caved in his memoirs. He wrote Time Warner, never pressure due to make a decision. He said he felt awful for the corporation and realize the controversy wasn't going away. I've been doing wrappers for years then do shit. He wrote then, at this the cops and they came after me like no gang of ever encountered. I see decided release the album without cop killer and police groups called off the boycott, January of nineteen. Ninety three Warner brothers lit. I see out of his contract. He signed with priority records. Distributed in W straight out accompany the upshot, for music artists and hip hop of cop killer is that war Your brothers is gonna, start attempt down all kinds of things that can cause problems in the
We are going to have to look at every lyric that you got you're doing- and if you don't like it, then we'll let you go, you have to be with but we have too many irons in too many fires corporate speaking too. Risk everything, because somebody's gonna get upset at your lyrics throughout the battle over cop killer. No one could point to a single incident and which represent directly incited violent behaviour that aims when Runaway Howard killed. Texas state trooper build Davidson, here's how its defence attorney Alan Tanner, a prosecutor in the case of names, Bobby Bell. Call me one day when I was in Houston and said: we find some recordings there were in the vehicle Ronald Howard was in you'd be really interested in hearing them. So, Ok, so driving down her Jackson, county and
we're listen to him so heard the tape, including the song soldier story, that song describes a traffic stop that into the gun got problems for my plea for one fails: a lot your body, a blast of this. Now I tricks with ten or listened he realized argue the two packs words had gotten inside of run a re, how're TED. I don't know what gangster rap music was at the time Here is a young kid from Houston who had had problems with police in his neighborhood and Our current fascinated by this music that he was listening to and that's all I got the idea use as a potential defence. As to why all this happened it soon.
The press reported that run a re Howard had been listening to populist now Tupac replaced iced tea is America's most dangerous wrapper, dank whale jumped back. The fray, demanding that time Warner pulled Tupac. Now from stores again, we are faced with an irresponsible corporate act, There is absolutely no reason for a record like this to be published by a response. A corporation to populist, now didn't that getting pooled, but Tupac was now, part of a national story? He was twenty. One years old. It appeared in one movie and released one. Album. Now the vice and it was calling him a villain and a menace Here's Andrea Dennis the co author of rap on trial. I think Tupac helps I defy the perspective of police and law enforcement. They gangster rap is violent. Gangster wrappers are violent fairly.
No dispute about Runaway Howard's guilt, Allentown organs. Seated that reality in his opening statement. There's no doubt about it, Russell Howard is going to be convicted of capital murder. He told the Jerry and he was right on June eighth, one thousand nine hundred and ninety three, jurist found Howard guilty in less than an hour the only part of the trial that was truly contested was the penalty phase. What Howard get a life sentence for lethal injection and a jailhouse interview. Howard said: the Tupac song was so intoxicating that driven into murder. He told a reporter Music was up is allowed as it could go with gunshots. And sovereign noises on it in a hurry, was pounding hard. I was so hyped up. I just snapped dinner ass, the twelve members of the jury, only one of whom was black, took a sitting possibility. The two pocket made his clients nab, he's in place,
There is a gangster rap songs for the jury. The judge war It plugs while the music played We now have to Leeward book and they were able to follow through with the word as each arm, we played like fifteen songs. From to park from a ghetto boys, I think, maybe end air, Maybe a gangster nip, I remember by the German her at all learn from the herd. I we blasted the court Romulus loud. They heard everything using article reporter Roy brag, remember, stressful things, the Austin courthouse you had this, throbbing, mass of anger and in the crowd these state troopers Mr Howard, family and security everywhere and it was just We intense the whole time.
The tension grew was the jury continued to deliberate, enhanced that point when the jury is out now, for more than one day, beyond the lunch now, it's bigger story, because now, why is the jury outdoes long? since was you know. Things are goin we're hurling into the sign because we're not gonna execute this guy the jury twice said they were hopelessly deadlocked. The judge sent them back in they followed it after, like six days, I don't know why they folded on the sixth day deliberations July Fourteenth ninety ninety three the Jura sentence, Runaway Howard to death. He was the key to twelve years later, another lawyer try the blame wrapped offence and ninety ninety five
for two Milwaukee teenagers shot and killed a police officer. This time the defence pointed to two packs guess verse. On a song by south central cartel, the Turning for one of the boys said the two Pox violet Anti police, lyrics up back at his command hallucinations, which influences behaviour. The strategy didn't work that time either both of the teenagers were convicted and Senate. The long prison terms back in Texas, Build Vincent widow, blamed Tupac and his music for the who pursue death events do has been devastating here. Hammer has was killed and I feel like they should be responsible for a while before the products that they produce Lucille, day after run, a re Howard was sentenced to die Linda suit.
If its and move forward with a lawsuit against Tupac time Warner and inner scope records by the time Tupac was deposing that lawsuit. Was doing time for sexually abusing Ayanna Jackson. The case we talked No previous episode. In a meeting room in the Clinton Correctional Institution, Tupac sparred with Linda Sue, Davidson's attorney but whether his songs encourage violence against police, two bucks The message is: music was clear: intention to try to get young black people why what's the police No Were you trying to provoke anybody? The do anything particular trying to tackle try to get people to do things tat tell us what does your head no,
We can slow burn who shot ya. Slower and as the production of slight plus slates membership problem. You can sign up for a slight plus two here bonus episode of the show this week in every week. This season. In this week's bonus episode, you hear more about how rat lyrics have been used as criminal evidence in court. I talked with love vessel, Andrea, Dennis about how cops and prosecutors have used to. What songs and other hip hop music to convict? three men of color to hear it signed up for, they pleasant slate dot com, flash. Slobber slow burn produced by me and Christopher Johnson with editorial direction by just Levine and Gabriel Roth Sophie summer. Gratis, our researcher are mixed engineers Jared Paul Don.
Oh composed our theme song the hour, four slow burn is by LISA Larsson Water special the slaves child to Derek said Katy Rayford low in Lieu Alison, Benedict and Jared hope. Thanks to nine Australia and journalist DVD for some of the audio you heard of this episode and by the way We created a playlist on Spotify to go with. This season will be updated, get each week with new episodes and songs by Tupac Biggie and their collaborators check it out every week at the Lincoln. The shown ups thanks for this Peace.
Transcript generated on 2020-07-21.