Remembering N.W.A.'s Infamous Concert 25 Years Ago in Anaheim

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An anti-police brutality activist took the podium at Tuesday's tense Anaheim city council meeting and began rapping the intro to "Fuck Tha Police" by N.W.A. Little did he know that history was being channeled as the world's most dangerous rap group performed the very same song nearly 25 years ago to the day! The Celebrity Theatre, literally a stone's throw from City Hall, played host to the concert that almost didn't happen on March 24, 1989.

"Anaheim, can I talk to y'all for one minute," MC Ren said to the crowd then. "They didn't want us to do this show because they said Eazy-E and N.W.A. promote gang violence and drugs. And I'll tell you who said it, it was the po-lice, right!" Before getting into the cut, he hyped the crowd. "Say fuck the police!" MC Ren commanded. Concert goers responded and Ice Cube took it away.

See also: Cover story on the Sons of NWA recording album in OC

The Weekly wasn't around back in the day for "Last Night Reviews" but Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times recapped the show. A teenager from Tustin told him that his mother cautioned against going to the show because "there could be a riot."

The concert did get rowdy with a fight breaking out. 40 young people later spilled out of the Celebrity Theatre as Anaheim police sent out a dozen patrol cars but as Hilburn recounts, no arrests were made.

Still hot off the heels of its August 1988 release of Straight Outta Compton N.W.A. pushed its debut record towards its destiny to become an all-time hip-hop classic. Ice Cube, just 19 years old then, told the Anaheim crowd that the Celebrity Theatre was the only place they could perform, as sports arenas and Long Beach weren't welcoming.

The rapper also gave a little background on "Fuck Tha Police" to The Times before the show. "There is a lot of resentment of police because if you're black, you get picked on a lot," he said. "They see you in a car or with a beeper and they assume you are a dope dealer. The song is a way to get out aggression. We're not really urging anyone to go out and attack police."

The Celebrity Theatre shuttered in 1994. Twenty-five years later, a church group owns the facility refashioning it "The Rock Forum." Police brutality is still very much the talk of the town--only not at a rap concert, but inside Anaheim's council chambers. There wasn't a riot the night N.W.A. performed, but street clashes took place near the site of the classic concert on July 24, 2012 after controversial police killings sparked riots.

There's always an irony in history and rappers from OC's young juice movement who weren't even born yet don't have to take the Weekly's word for it. N.W.A.'s entire set from that infamous concert is online. Enjoy!

See also
Top 10 Rappers in OC
10 More of OC's Dopest Rappers
The Top 5 Female Rappers in OC

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18 comments
propraetor
propraetor

remember Above The Law going on stage and I was backstage with NWA....they hid their guns on the amps of their speakers. And Easy E crushed a soda can to make a weapon cuz they thought it was going to go down. That night some punk Asshole form LBC (stupid white boy) wound up stabbing a security guard after the show when the fights broke out on Broadway...cops never caught him though... 

George Apostolatos
George Apostolatos

A friend who was there told me of the souvenir stand being looted also

Brett James
Brett James

BTW, not trying to be a punk..but the concert was on March 23rd, 1989, not the 24th.

Marcel Karel
Marcel Karel

Was that the one were gang starr openend then comptons most wanted flyers were on the benches at knotts berry farm hardly any body was there!

TheRefriedMexican
TheRefriedMexican

If I'm not mistaken it was a year or two later after Ice Cube's break up with N.W.A., that Cube performed there with Too $hort and somebody was shot there. Those were the days. #BringBackTheCelebrity

Johanna Soifua
Johanna Soifua

Great venue back in the day! The 80's were rockin'!

Paul Lopez
Paul Lopez

I was there!!! Jared Rice... Gregory Friley...Andrew De Los Reyes

Shelton Gray Jr.
Shelton Gray Jr.

NWA and public enemy are the two most important rap artists ever

Linda Josey
Linda Josey

I saw Salt N Pepa and UTFO along with other rappers at the Celebrity Theater in '87. Great show and great venue.

Dan Koven
Dan Koven

I was there as well. The 2nd concert I'd ever been to. Crazy.

Brett James
Brett James

I was there!! Damn..The Celeb..*sigh* Great shows!

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