NYC Cops

Album: Is This It (2001)
Charted: 16
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Songfacts®:

  • According to the band's frontman, Julian Casablancas, this abrasive anthem against police brutality was written in response to the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo. The 23-year-old Guinean immigrant was unarmed when he was shot and killed by four plain-clothes policemen in New York City who thought he was reaching for a gun instead of his wallet. The song was originally on the album but removed after September 11th because of the line "New York City cops ain't too smart." On the US CD version, it was replaced by "When It Started."

    In a 2018 Vulture interview, Casablancas said the exclusion of song caused fans to overlook other political messages in their early songs. "When it was taken of the album after 9/11, the political element got removed from the band's narrative," he explained. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Shaggy - Bristol, CT
  • The song is about getting away with illegal activity. A snorting noise at the end implies someone snorting cocaine. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The Amadou Diallo tragedy also inspired Bruce Springsteen's "American Skin (41 Shots)" and Trivium's "Contempt Breeds Contamination."
  • In February 2020, The Strokes performed this at the Get Out The Vote rally in Durham, New Hampshire, in support of Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. In a surreal moment, actual New York City cops came onstage during the performance to try to control the flood of fans that jumped the rail.
  • The Strokes played this during their 2002 show at Radio City Music Hall and were joined by Jack White of The White Stripes on guitar.
  • Queens-based rapper Himanshu Suri, known by his stage name Heems, covered this for the 10th anniversary tribute album Stereogum Presents... Stroked: A Tribute To Is This It. Heems had victims of police brutality in mind when he recorded his contribution. "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."

Comments: 12

  • Tess from Ny, NyAt Em:

    The song that replaced New York City Cops in the U.S. album was indeed When It Started.
  • Em from Adelaide, AustraliaWhat was the song they put on the US album instead of NYC Cops? I have the Australian version of 'Is This It' and it has 'New York City Cops' on it. I also downloaded 'When It Started' which says its from the 'Is This It' album. Anyone know whats going on here?
  • Alex from Perth, Australiaon the australian release of Is This It? this song is on it but it is titled, 'When it started'
  • Annie from Leeds, EnglandI read they have an ex-cop who they buy guitars from and they asked him if was offended by NYC cops but he just said no, i dont listen to your music.
  • Lucy from Los Angeles, CaWell, its really hard to post meanings to songs by the Strokes, seeing as how Julian writes most of 'em and they usually are about him & his family. Like Last Nite has to do something with his sister..i dunno what though.

    When they were forced to remove NYC Cops from Is This It? Julian was dissapointed because it killed the album, he arranges them in an order and thats how they 'sposse to go.....damn 9/11!!
  • Conor from Ottawa, Canadawhy arent there more songs by the strokes, none the less im still pleased to see NYC cops here, great song, this song is on the Hard to Explain single.
  • Tom from Auckland, New Zealandonly one strokes song?? what the?
  • Tango Fistula from Gila Bend, Azhas this band finished posing and making pouty faces yet?
    i really hope that their advance has run out so they can serve me a latte and i can refuse to tip as a matter of principal.
  • Rico from Melbourne, AustraliaGreat song I reckon... people are definitely too sensitive (even though S11 was a tragedy)... what happened to freedom of expression???
  • J-raff from Boston, MaThe CD was rereleased in the US later with that song and a new cover.
  • Natasha from Chico, Caya, the song isn't on the cd in the u.s., but i've still found a way to listen to it.:) Where are the rest of the Strokes songs here on this site???
  • Marco from Denno - Italia, Italyhere in europe the song hasn't been removed.and it is one of the best in the album!
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