The self-hating black police officer was based on a cop whom John Singleton witnessed as a kid. Singleton felt it was critical to show this officer to show how racist black police could be towards black people.
John Singleton based Tre's childhood on his own. Singleton's father was a mortgage broker like Laurence Fishburne's character. When he was 12, Singleton moved in with his father in South Los Angeles. Like Tre, Singleton stayed out of trouble with his father's guidance and went to college.
Ice Cube was John Singleton's first choice for Doughboy, he approached him at a rap music concert a couple of times, and Cube was reluctant to audition via a screen test, conducted by Singleton himself. Singleton later encouraged Cube to write screenplays (based on Cube's contribution to rap lyrics) - which resulted in the successful 'Friday' film series.
Columbia Pictures wanted to make the picture, but wanted someone other than John Singleton to direct it. Singleton believed only he could do it, replying, "Hell, no, I'm not gonna let somebody from Idaho or Encino direct a movie about living in south-central Los Angeles. They can't come in here and cast it and go through the rewrites and know exactly what aesthetics are unique to this film."
A pickpocket in this film, who tries to rob Doughboy's crew and gets beat up, wears a T-shirt reading "We Want Eazy". This is a reference to Eazy-E, Ice Cube's former N.W.A. bandmate, with whom he was feuding at the time.
John Singleton originally wanted the members of N.W.A. as part of Ice Cube's entourage. Cube's departure from NWA over a salary dispute resulted in a feud (as depicted in both Cube's "Death Certificate" album, NWA's "100 Miles and Runnin'" and the final NWA album "Efil4zaggin" forced Singleton to recast the roles for Cube's entourage, including the infamous chain-snatcher scene where the character wears an Eazy-E T-shirt and is subsequently beaten.
In the scene where Furious (Laurence Fishburne) and his son (Cuba Gooding Jr.) are sitting on the rocks having a father-to-son chat, Furious mentions fighting as a young soldier in Vietnam. Laurence Fishburne starred in Apocalypse Now (1979) as a young soldier in Vietnam.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Actor, Lloyd Avery II, who plays the gang member that shoots Ricky, was arrested in real life over the connection of a double homicide. He was convicted and put in jail. And was later killed on the evening of September 6, 2005, by his cell mate.