Raptivist Rapper B. Dolan posted a music video remake of NWA's "F*ck the Police" on YouTube on December 8, 2011, in connection to occupy movements, a month after alleged violence and media blackout of occupy evictions. In less than three days, "Film the Police" reached over 70,000 views, big numbers for an indie video and homemade grassroots activist documentary alike.
Rhode Island-based Sage Francis kicks off the track as NWA's Dr. Dre who passes the digital mic to B.Dolan as Ice Cube, then rapper/activist Toki Wright of Minneapolis as MC Ren, and finally to Jasiri X of Pittsburgh, as Eazy E. Filmed performances in each city are intercut with readily available online activist video. Video director Mason Johnson, a Utah-based filmmaker, provides us example of clever collaboration in the digital age. Through form and content, this crew encourages community, collaboration, and CopWatching with iPhones, Blackberrys, flip cameras and even Canon’s hi-definition 7D, over a track produced Buddy Peace, who is from London. Created in the tradition of activist rapper Jasiri X's remix videos, this videos works in resistance to mainstream media's (mis)representations through the art of rip and remix.
Here rap, a megaphone for activist themes (anti-police brutality and community organizing), reaches a broad audience. In the tradition of hip-hop's remix culture (see Copyright Criminals, the documentary on hip-hop’s creative bricolage charged with infringement on corporate profit), YouTubers are simultaneously (potential) contributors and viewers. YouTube as archive for (free) footage and simultaneously the distribution platform, offers possibilities for endless creativity, as long as YouTube exists in unpoliced forms. The other dangers: don’t get arrested or shot while filming, get video play (viewer hits) but as the hip-hop euphemism urges, don’t get played out (as in overplayed, used, tacky, fake, or seemingly disingenuous), and of course, don’t get prosecuted for copyright infringement! Also important here is the video’s affirmative answer to the question, "Are Cameras the New Gun?" Filming the police is well within your legal rights, upheld by a recent Supreme Court ruling. Still, the police continue to confiscate citizen cameras and attempt to prosecute those who film them.
B. Dolan’s belief that music can be a powerful tool in sparking people's awareness, shows that his carefully crafted lyrics send the timely and powerful message: We the people are the only real media we got.