The Strokes song "New York City Cops" was supposed to come out on the band's brilliantly laconic slack-rock debut Is This It , but its>"/>
The Strokes song "New York City Cops" was supposed to come out on the band's brilliantly laconic slack-rock debut Is This It, but its chorus of "New York City cops/They ain't too smart" was deemed too insensitive to the city's first responders in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, and the song was relegated to the (obviously superior) import-only "Smell the Glove" version of the album. (This wasn't the only musical victim of 9/11: Jimmy Eat World wussed out and changed the title of their album and its title track from Bleed American to Jimmy Eat World and "Salt Sweat Sugar" respectively, while socialist hip-hop duo the Coup's planned album art for Party Music--designed pre-9/11, eerily enough--was understandably if regrettably altered.)
But Queens MC Heems of Das Racist largely leaves the song's globally charged backstory alone in his flip of the Strokes track for Stereogum's tribute to Is This It, titled Stroked, which posted today. Instead, the notably brown MC takes the original song's playful sentiment that much further, suggesting--with examples cited--that not only may NYC cops not be the brightest, but that their incompetence and institutionalized racism can get innocent people of color killed. (The Strokes' song, on the other hand, felt like it was about the ease with which white after-partyers could get away with shit.) Himanshu explains it all (/sitcom idea):
Michael Stewart, Eleanor Bumpurs, Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Alberta Spruill, Timothy Stansbury, Abner Louima, Sean Bell, Ousmane Zongo, Randolph Evans, Anthony Baez, Clifford Glover, and Fermin Arzou were senselessly beaten or killed by the NYPD while unarmed.
More after the jump . . .
This is about the least joking you've ever heard Heems, although, in typical Das Racist style, for all the seriousness of the subject matter, there are still some clever lines here--and the beat is a paranoid, lights-flashing burner, the Strokes' chorus sped up into a chipmunk raga, Heem's ad-libbing in a dumb, drawling White Cop Voice, "Son, do you know what I'm stopping you for?" "Well, I'm a white cop . . . so . . . I own this world."
(NB: I'm sure being a NYC cop is an incredibly hard, thankless job--I just finished reading Lush Life over here, so I'm pretty sure I know what I'm talking about--and nobody's saying they murder people of color for fun and sport. But, you know, wink wink.)
The whole comp is worth checking out this morning, especially Dirty Projectors singer Angel Deradoorian's pretty, dubby take on "Trying Your Luck" and Owen Pallett's "Hard to Explain" (as well as his included, uh, explanation, which calls back to some old message-board discussions of the Strokes)--but Heems' version here is the standout for me. At least as good as his flip of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream."
Update: Further viewing: