Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crate Digging: Party Music

by The Coup

The Coup are pretty remarkable in hip-hop.  The group, made up of rapper/producer/front man Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress, come from a tradition of protest and resistance, and their politics informs their songwriting, although they are not as deadly serious as this sentence makes them sound.  Their work is highly critical of government, church, and corporate America, but is also frequently funny, irreverent, and above all else, funky.

High points on this album, which had its September 2001 release delayed because it's original cover showed the band blowing up the World Trade Center, are frequent.

'5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO' is exactly what it sounds like, a humourous rant about corporate greed and power, as Boots provides some suggestions to deal with these issues.  The Coup are joined by the spiritual brothers, Dead Prez, on the song 'Get Up', a typical call to arms.  Boots lays out his political views on 'Ride the Fence', where he comes across as anti-just about everything.  'Nowalaters' is a story about the time he thought he got a girl pregnant.  Again, it is funny, and very honest in its telling, showing that he has, as a writer, more than a few topics to talk about.

There are two songs that really stand out on this album, and are the ones that I have used as examples of thoughtful, intelligent hip-hop.  Both are lovely and touching.  'Wear Clean Draws' has Boots giving advice to his young daughter.  It is an anthem of female empowerment and self-respect.  'Heven Tonite' is a call for action, specifically calling out the church for its emphasis on the next life, to the neglect of the current one.  His idea is to 'make heaven right here, just in case they wrong'.

This is a classic album, which has inspired and entertained me.  The Coup deserve a lot more attention, and a place of prominence in classrooms and radio stations.

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