Hive Five: Exploring Rap’s Response to the L.A. Riots

Riot police guard Hollywood Boulevard, May 1, 1992. Photo: Dayna Smith/Getty Images

This Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, fueled by the acquittal of the L.A.P.D. officers involved in the Rodney King beatings. The incident was sad and certainly tragic and left a mark on the hip-hop community at large, inspiring anger-lined anthems over the years. Here’s a round-up of the five fieriest rap reactions to the events that transpired.

1. Ice Cube, “We Had To Tear This Motherfucka Up”

The shadow of the Rodney King rumpus is writ large throughout Ice Cube’s third most incendiary album, The Predator. Here sampled snippets of news reports prompt Cube to air out his frustration with the jury’s acquittal by taking things to the streets and, as he puts it, “tear this motherfucka up.” It’s a riotous reaction that also has him boasting about snagging “a laptop computer.”

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