Hip-Hop Cop
Way I Be Leanin’

Interview: Keith Murphy
Images: Steven Brahms

hiphopcop1.jpg

“You can’t see it with all this scaffolding, but this is where it all took place.” On an unseasonably warm February evening, former police detective Derrick Parker points to a construction site on 43rd Street in Midtown Manhattan. Six years ago, this was the Kit Kat Club, a place that achieved infamy when Brooklyn rhyme deity Jay-Z stabbed rap-industry vet Lance “Un” Rivera over an alleged album-bootlegging dispute. For Parker, it was just one of the many cases he investigated during his years heading up the NYPD’s hip-hop intelligence unit. The former narcotics detective and cold case squad member established the covert unit in 1999 at the request of superiors concerned with the escalation of hip-hop–related crimes.

During his night with XXL, the wide-bodied, 6’3” Parker leads a tour of sites where rap history and criminal lure intersect. Two blocks west of the Kit Kat, there’s Club New York, where less than a month after the Jay-Z incident, Sean “Puffy” Combs, his girlfriend Jennifer Lopez and the young rapper Shyne found themselves embroiled in a shoot-out that became front-page news. There’s the Fort Greene, Brooklyn, mural of the feared gunman Killer Ben, who was murdered following an alleged robbery of a friend of the Notorious B.I.G.’s. From the episodes at the Kit Kat Club and Club New York to the February, 2001 shooting outside New York radio station Hot 97 that eventually led to Lil’ Kim’s perjury conviction to the still-unsolved murder cases of Tupac Shakur and Biggie, Parker has worked a long string of rap-connected police cases. He created the NYPD’s top-secret “Hip-Hop Binder”—a dossier containing the arrest records of everyone from Jay-Z, 50 Cent and DMX to Lil’ Kim, Fabolous and Busta Rhymes—and frequently consulted for other cities on out-of-state cases.

While he found the work rewarding, his position was challenging on many levels. An avowed hip-hop head, Parker eventually became disillusioned with the police department’s policies. He quit in 2002, and now works as a private investigator for Styles Security—often consulting for the same rap stars he once investigated.

Parker details his experiences leading the hip-hop intel squad in his book, Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie and Jam Master Jay Investigations from NYPD’s First “Hip-Hop Cop, due in July from St. Martin’s Press. “I was closing cases left and right,” he says, of his time on the force. “But I always had my eye on what was going on in the rap community, because this was the music I came up with.”

hiphopcop2.jpgYou were on the police force for 20 years before being assigned specifically to rap-related cases. How did the hip-hop intelligence unit come about?
Well, you have to go back to the beginning. The first event that opened my eyes was the Quad Studios shooting of Tupac Shakur [in 1994]. That incident and the [subsequent] murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. started to get the NYPD worried about a possible rap war. And they needed someone that had firsthand knowledge of the hip-hop industry.

What was your connection with the hip-hop industry before you headed the rap intelligence unit?
I used to work as a [music] promoter. I would go to music conventions like Jack the Rapper and network with people from the hip-hop scene. This is the music that I grew up on, and I love and respect this culture. So I was just trying to help the police brass understand the industry, which led to the formation of the rap unit.

Did you face added scrutiny from any of your superiors because of your past connections with the music industry?
When I first went into intel, I would get the question: “Derrick, you used to promote and do a couple of things in music. We are concerned with you going into this unit.” And I would just say, “Let me explain something to you. Have you ever doubted my integrity since I’ve been at this job?” The department knew I was a straightlaced guy. If you look at my record while I was there, you will see nothing but exemplary marks.

You created the infamous “Hip-Hop Binder,” which includes the police records of everyone from 50 Cent to Lil’ Kim. The NYPD’s critics charge that the rap intelligence unit is committing something analogous to racial profiling—hip-hop profiling.
The Binder wasn’t supposed to be used in that way. After the Hot 97 radio shooting [involving the crews of Lil’ Kim and her rival Foxy Brown], the chief of the detectives wanted the Binder disseminated to a lot of the different commanders so they could understand what was going on. There was some talk that the Hot 97 incident was part of a rap war, which was just a ridiculous theory, and I was out to dispel that.

For a long time the NYPD officially denied the existence of the Binder. It seemed like they had something to hide.
In the intelligence division I headed, when you do covert activity, it’s not really supposed to be made public. This is for everyone’s safety. They used to do this type of intel work on the Mafia family, the Chinese gangs and the BLA [Black Liberation Army]. But, again, I wasn’t too happy about how the Binder was being used.

Does the NYPD equate the rap industry with the Mafia?
It comes down to not understanding the culture. But the hip-hop industry is not making it easy for itself with the whole “Stop Snitching” thing. When the authorities see rappers who are not cooperating with the police and they see all these shootings and homicides, to them, that borders on organized crime.

Continue reading this feature in the June 2006 issue of XXL (#81).

  • BIGWES174

    FUCK THAT BEAT WALKING MOTHER F__KER

  • ace

    yea fuck that fat donut eatin nigga this cat talks like he’s proud of bein a hip hop cop

  • Keith

    y th fuck is this even here???

    -R.I.P Proof

  • Jihad Joe

    Is that Paul Sorvino? Good to see hes doing something after Goodfellas. This story is kind of funny because this pig says he likes rap which is like David Duke saying hes a Public Enemy fan. New York is the shittiest place to be a g now adays considering a half ball will run you like ten in a half years without parole. Come to T.Dot were you won’t be caught or investigated and if you are your doing a year for weapon possesion or some shit like that.

  • j.c.

    jihad joe, you whiling. you just said ny is the shittiest place to be, the fuck you know about shit man. it just makes you more “g” if you’re grindin in ny with all this shit. 1

  • yo momma’s man

    hey look guys now ya know what he looks like! ………lmao

  • KlientL

    yo momma’s man Says:
    April 24th, 2006 at 4:39 am

    hey look guys now ya know what he looks like! ………lmao
    ………………………………..

    A pig? lolol!!

  • D

    You people can’t read, he’s not a cop anymore. And the man is making good sense. Who do you think is doing more for hip-hop – people stopping crimes from happening or dickheads who pop shots and kill innocent people.

    BTW Derrick was a good friend with Izzy (the bodyguard for busta rhymes who got merc’d) so y’all can’t even judge him.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AusarsPlace The God

    fuck this damn PIG..I hate cops with a passion

  • fresh azimiz

    you dudes are so dumb. u think the whole stop snitchin shit is cool now a days. people r out here grindin yeah, and sometimes, its just business, but don’t do stupid shit, watch ur back, cuz itll be ur fault if u get snitched on, by the way, the stop snitchin shit, if ur so down with that and sayin fuck the cops, then how do i know deep down u all want the cops to find out who killed pac and biggie, or seagram, or mausberg, think about it u dumbass internet thugs.

  • 79cent

    Interesting story. It’s different hearing the otherside of the story. I just think that these rappers are making too much money to still be out here trying to keep it street. There is nothing street about a rapper that acts in movies, talk about selling drugs on wax, sell clothes. They are not the street anymore these rappers are business men and they need to act that way.

  • BIGWES174

    freshazimiz,yeh we want PAC and BIGGIES killers found and its the cops job to find out but when you are a nigger in there eyes they can care less about who killed PAC,BIGGIE,JAM MASTER JAY,BIG L,FREAKY TY, AND THE MANY BLACK BRO’S MURDERS GO UNSOLVED EVERYDAY SO I say FUCK THE COPS AND U freshazimiz.

  • WiLL LENOXFlatbush4LIFE

    ya NIGGERS are stupid. Derrick is my man he is right ya ain’t doing nothing 4 hip hop . but start giving it a bad name .Iam A Bouncer i see everthing that happpens in those party and life style. nothing but drama everyday.thats 4 real. but what is funny is ya niggers that say fuck the cops. are the first ones to run to them when fights happen in the clubs and when yar get shot call the cops and call MY Mother. fagets so read the story carefully.cops some time save our lives keep it real.Later .XXLMAG, RIP IZZY and all the Bouncers out there who put there life on the line everynight.

  • http://xxlmag.com/ geezy187

    fuck this cop, he dont give a fuck about hip hop, he just wants to arrest niggaz and give them all day, and fuck advertising the “stop snitchin” campaign, advertisment is not needed niggaz just need to keep they mouth shut.

  • lil c

    BIGWEST174

    got sum news for u

    2pac woz killed by orlando anderson
    biggie woz killed by LAPD

    there is ur answers if u dont believe me go back thru the tupac case and see who he had a fight with b4 he died there is ur answer.
    and biggie’s case in my eyez woz a retaliation by the LAPD for tupacs death

    rip dj screw, fat pat , big hawk, tupac, biggie, freaky tah, big .L

    peace

  • Big C

    To get the real story you gotta see the movie “Black & Blue: Legends of the Hip Hop Cop”. It’s got everything you would want to know about how the cops follow rappers, It’s got Derrick in it too! I saw a screener of it at a store I work for and it’s outrageous! It’s another home run for QD3 who’s putting it out. (Same company that did all the BEEF’s and Thug Angel, RIP Tupac, and The MC) This article just touches the surface. Oh, and they’ve got great footage of cops rolling up on the Game. There are some really funny moments, but it really leaves you thinking.

  • Blackville

    Damn cop shot retire he shouldn’t be proud to be a damn hip hop cop! :(

    Rest In Peace Proof in lovin’ memory

  • hey look

    fuck that pig,donut,lazy,fat,greasy,snitching,gay,faggot ass

  • C.Smalls

    A yo I don’t give a fuck what WiLL LENOXFlatbush4LIFE and fresh azimiz, u know y cause no matter what kind of cop you is, when you a nigga they don’t give a fuck about you. And if something go down I handel it my self, I don’t run to the cops. Just like my nigga The God I hate’em with a passion. Cause at the end of the day they still got to do they job, so fuck’em they not my friends they just want to lock me up.

  • http://none MinoKRD

    Yall some stupid asses, what you guys mean we hate the cops? Motherfuckers ya be the first one running to cops when someone is holding a gun on your brainless head. Ya be the first one running to cop when yall need them. If yall hate cops because they give you tickets and arrest you and shit, than yall must hate your parents. Because cops are like parents, when you momma say come back home before such time, you better be home or she goin to punish you, same way with cop, give you tickets. If ya break house rule, you momma and daddy will punish you, same way with the city, the cops will give you tickets. Motherfuckers yall need to respect other people and other people’s rules and laws. When you come to my house, you better be respectful to me, my family, and my house, same way with any city, ya better respect it and follow the rule.

    This hip hop cop is good for hip cop is good for hip hop culture. If there is no cops, than everyday someone like Pac, Biggie, Freaky Tah, JMJ, etc, etc etc, will die and we dont need no one to die over some stupid shit. Yesterday they died, tommrrow people like Nas, Dr Dre, Eminem, Scarface, 50 cent, Jay Z, etc etc etc will die if we say fuck the cops. Motherfuckers cops are saving us.

    Someone like “The God” whos says i hate cops with a passion, i bet your ass have called 911 before, i bet cops have saved or helped your ass before.

  • ROB G

    FUCK THE COPS AND ANY MOTHERFUCKERS
    SIDING WITH EM. SNITCH ASS NIGGASS. THERES A REASON REAL HOOD NIGGAS HAVE NO RESPECT FOR PIGS. COPS DONT GIVE A FUCK ABOUT ANYBODIES SITUATION THERES REASONS NIGGAS DO THEY THANG FUCK MINIMUM WAGE ICOULDNT FEED MY FAM WITH THAT SHIT EVEN IF I TRIED 10 FOR HALF A BALL THATS RIDICULOUS A DECADE IN HELL FOR 100 BUCKS. THEY SENDING NIGGAS TO PRISON BREAKING UP HOMES FOR SHIT THEY PUT IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS. YOU DONT BELIEVE ME BETTER DO UR RESEARCH.HARRASSIN ANY MINORITY THAT GOT SOMETHING. PLANTING SHIT ON NIGGAS. THEY CALLED PIGS CAUSE THEY SOME DIRTY ASS SCUM. ICANT BE IGNORANT AND SAY ALL COPS ARE THIS WAY, BUT A GOOD MAJORITY OF THOSE MUFUCKERS ARE CROOKS. FUCK THE POLICE ALL DAY EVERY DAY AND I BE DAMNED IF I EVER RUN TO THE COPS WHEN SHIT GO DOWN, I HANDLE MINE. STOP SNITCHIN BITCHES.
    +

    +

  • Big Sau

    FUCK dat nigga fo reel

  • aggin4efil

    man u all snitch ass niggas hu fukin wiv da pigs man, SNITCH ASS NIGGAS

  • What a world

    Goodness, I don’t mean any harm, but does anybody want to buy a vowel???

  • http://www.strong310.com BOSS

    Y’all niggaz is funny. My college roommate is 5-0, that nigga be crackin me up tellin me stories about all the so-called Gs who be bitchin and snitchin when they get them in the box. He always says don’t believe NONE OF THEM, they all talk…All them rappers is Frontin like a mofo…like I had to tell this cracka who was tryinta get loud with me when I was tapin Fat Joe in LI: Nigga, Sopranos is just a show. These rappers need to enjoy they money and stop tryinta be so hard. Ice T says my favorite thing: it only takes 2 pounds of pressure. U ain’t tuff cause u bust, a 2 year old can bust. Get money and leave tha Hood to the niggaz that ain’t got no options…

  • p.west

    Yo, he’s probably the guy to be an hip hop cop. He knows hip hop and I read other texts. It’s look like he giving a lot of respect to individual in this rap game. I think it,s better to a an hip hop cop like than one like those who beated down Rodney King. There is going to be hip hop cops anyway, it better be him.

    I’m not somebody who loves cops, but in our society there will always be cops. I prefere if they are like him, instead of fucker without judgement and without an oz of intelligence.

    ” Just because I look wrong I’m about to do right” Ice cube – race card.

    This guy look wrong because he,s a cop, but he is probably doing it right in respect of people.

    So fuck y’all that can understand that we live in a society and that you’re not the only person living out there with all the rights you want.

    If a member of your family get killed, you want a payback. Life sentence is worst than death…

  • pablo haze

    fuck a hiphop cop