Behind The Music: COPX

COPX is the only song off of The Unspoken Word album that I produced a beat for. Originally I wanted to call it some crazyness like "Many Moons" or something like that (lol!) I was feelin its tripped out effect but decided to sit on it for better ideas to spring forth - the kind of ideas that write themselves and later become songs. Such inspiration this time around unfortunately came from a tragedy in my community of Oakland California.

After a long night of welcoming in New Years Day 2009 in San Francisco, I was driving home when I heard of a fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a BART police officer at the Fruitvale BART station. This transit train station was in my hood (7 min away from my house by car), so the story got my attention right away. The news was a buzz about Oscar Grant, the victim, shot in the back by a BART police officer while laying face down on the train platform. Caught by multiple passengers on cell phone cameras, one viewing was devastating and equally enraging. From what appears to be a man laying on his belly with his hands behind his back, while an officer crouches down behind him, and another officer not too far from his side. At some point the officer directly behind Oscar Grant, stands up, with no provocation, pulls out his pistol and shoots Oscar Grant in his back. Killing him almost instantly! THERE WAS NO NEED FOR THIS TO HAPPEN- THAT MAN SHOULD BE ALIVE . The sudden pop of the gun, seemed to pause the passengers witnessing it all , and then the gravity of the situation hit them as well and instantly people started booing the officers from the train. The passenger's reaction caused some of the remaining officers on the platform to pull out their weapons and point them up close to the windows of the BART train. Some rider's cell phones were even confiscated by police.

This incident was disturbing on many levels and as such I found myself writing lines to CopX again, but this time the lyrics stuck. These were the first to land on the page and stay:

"Gather leaders brothers, sisters and meet us/ corners and side walks peep the pigs that perceive us/ and pass it on/ Gather leaders brothers, sisters and meet us/ corners and side walks peep the pigs that perceive us/ and pass it on"

It was only a week later, after seeing Oscar Grant's photo on the news that this tragedy took another dimension: Oscar worked at the local grocery store I shopped at. Him being the only Afircan American to work in the the meat section, I immediately recalled purchasing fish and poultry from him weeks prior. This made it strangely personal. I didn't know him more than the guy working behind the counter, yet he could've been me, my friend, cousin, brother etc.


Much has been written about Oscar Grant's murder (some call it a killing, I call it murder), the subsequent trial that found the officer that stole his life Johannes Mehserle guilty for involuntary manslaughter (not the 2nd degree murder charge most in the community felt he deserved) resulting in a 2 year sentence - let out after 11 months served, the multiple protests, to the much anticipated movie based upon the whole tragedy "Fruitvale Station" (comes out July 12, I highly encourage y'all to see this film!)





For me CopX evolved into a story brought on by this tragedy but also the sentiment that police murdering unarmed people is a far too common place. In the United States this happens so often, that the Malcolm X Grassroots project did a study and determined that every 36 hours a person of color (more times than not unarmed) is shot by police in the United States. That extensive report can be found here. In Oakland the police were determined to draw their weapons far too often which raises all sorts of issues. So throughout the song there's elements of Oscar's story and the stories of others as well...

non believers eat a cock unarmed citizen shot
by that same guilty cop who shot 12 months ago
a cat in the back ran instead of froze
froze instead of ran/ evidence showed
No drugs no strap no no threat posed
All they found was a bunch of fucking no's

Trying to balance anger, rage, the impression that Black life in my community and nation at large is less valuable and as such can be exterminated in an almost "oops" kind of way, or worse in a malicious way by police was not acceptable. CopX was a way to express all of these feelings as well as reclaim a sense of humanity. At the end of the song I used a sample of Oscar Grant's mother speaking at a press conference after the trial of her son's killer - it still gives me chills...