Rhymefest uses recordings of his ridiculous treatment by Chicago police on ‘Cops N Robbers’

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On Monday, two days after Rhymefest was held up at gunpoint at 43rd and Cottage Grove, the rapper released "Cops N Robbers," which details his experience—not just staring down the barrel of a gun, but also struggling to get Chicago police to hear his grievances. Rhymefest enlisted a team of collaborators for the track, including rapper John the Author and four producers—S1, Epikh Pro, Damon Ranger, and Xzibit—who are collectively responsible for its serrated synths, spindly percussion, and warm, slightly nervy piano melody.

Thanks to thoughtful sampling, "Cops N Robbers" doubles as a work of citizen journalism. Rhymefest opens and closes the track with recordings from his frustrating encounter with the CPD. When he went to a nearby police station to report being robbed, he first spoke with an officer who seemed more interested in playing Candy Crush on her phone than hearing him out. "Cops N Robbers" ends with another officer telling the rapper that his supervisor has said "to ask you to leave."

Rhymefest aired his complaints about his treatment by the police on Twitter, and given his high profile, the terrible Saturday morning he'd had quickly became news. (DNAinfo Chicago described Rhymefest as a Grammy winner in its subheadline, though he's done plenty worth noting since earning that award in 2005 for cowriting Kanye West's "Jesus Walks": he ran for 20th Ward alderman, for instance, and won an Oscar for cowriting Common and John Legend's "Glory.") Even mayor Rahm Emanuel voiced his anger about the episode.

But "Cops N Robbers" accomplishes something that no news report can. It stirs up the feelings that Rhymefest grappled with during his ordeal—feelings of helplessness and outrage that countless ordinary Chicagoans have had to face. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi apologized to the rapper, which might put a cap on this story in the eyes of the public—but with this song, Rhymefest has created a reminder that will endure, and with any luck save at least a few people from having to deal with disrespectful cops.




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