Monday, August 2, 2010

Crate Digging: Pick a Bigger Weapon

by The Coup

It's hard for me to believe that it's been four years since this album dropped; I find that it still gets fairly regular play, and many of the tracks on here have places of honour on my ipod.

Pick A Better Weapon is a classic album.  As with their previous offerings, Boots Riley and Pam the Funkstress work to convey complex political and sociological ideas in a manner that is fun and easily accessible, without sacrificing the clarity of their message.  I can think of no one else in hip-hop, and hardly anyone in any other form of media, who are as skilled at taking an idea that could be considered by many to be unpalatable, and turn it into something both thoughtful and entertaining.

Aside from a short intro track, the album begins with 'We Are the Ones', which has Boots rapping in a quicker, slightly hysterical voice, justifying a career in the drug game:  "now philosphically you'd be opposed to one inhaling coke via mouth or the nose, but economically i would propose that you go eat a dick as employment has froze."  From there, we go into 'Laugh/Love/F***', which makes the revolution sound like a lot of fun.

The fourth track, 'My Favorite Mutiny' is one of my all-time favourite songs.  It has appearances by Black Thought and Talib Kweli, although Boots outshines them both.  'Ijuswannalayaroundalldayinbedwithyou' is a lovely song about love, and the ways in which crappy jobs can ruin it.  'Head (of State)' is classic Coup - a bouncy song about the political (and perhaps sexual) relationship between G.W. Bush and Saddam Hussein.  Songs like 'ShoYoAss', 'Get That Monkey Off Your Back', and 'MindF*** (A New Equation)' continue the call for revolution.

A couple of skits and the irritating 'Ass-Breath Killers' weaken things in the middle of the album, but it picks up again with 'I Love Boosters!', Boots's tribute to the urban phenomenon of professional shoplifters.  Leave it to him to see them as soldiers of a Marxist revolution...

'Tiffany Hall' is an important song that examines the consequences of men discussing womens' bodies, told through the story of Tiffany, an activist and intelligent girl who died from complications with liposuction.  'BabyLet'sHaveABabyBeforeBushDoSomethin'Crazy' is a pretty little song sung by Silk E which helps remind us of the uncertainty of the Bush era.

The album finishes with my other favourite Coup song, 'The Stand'.  This is the only track not produced by Boots (instead the beat is done by Organized Elements), but in many ways, I think it offers the best example of his quiet rage and the indignity of being one of the working poor.

Pick A Bigger Weapon is a great album, and I hope that The Coup releases something new soon.  The age of corporate buy-outs and foreclosure needs someone like Boots to help interpret it.

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