Hailing from Oakland, CA, this duo takes well thought out, radical politics and infuses them with the energy of artfully inspired hip-hop. Soulful funky beats and cleverly crafted rhymes make the politics of the record easily accessible to a wider audience.
Let's face it: Most rap artists aren't interviewed by Political Affairs
, a self-proclaimed "Marxist monthly," but then again, Boots Riley isn't your typical rap artist. The "raptivist" certainly doesn't mince words on Pick a Bigger Weapon
, the Coup's first release in five years. (You may remember the Oakland duo's previous release, 2001's Party Music
, with its original pre-9/11 cover shot of them blowing up the Twin Towers.) In 2006, Riley's acidic political and social commentary has never been sharper or timelier, and his keen sense of humor plus the fluid, soul-drenched beats (courtesy of partner Pam the Funkstress and a stellar session band) make it insanely palatable. The truly vital "My Favorite Mutiny," which also features Talib Kweli and the Roots' Black Thought, pulses with funk rhythms and punctuating horns while three of rap's smoothest spitters deliver the straight dope. Riley offers a radical history lesson on "Head (Of State)": "Bush and Hussein together in bed... billions made and millions dead." On "We Are the Ones," he warns, "we're the have-nots, but we're also the gon'-gets." The slow jam "BabyLet'sHaveaBabyBeforeBushDoSomethin'Crazy," with singer Silk E, is witty, seductive, and poignant all at the same time. In his PA
interview, Riley says Pick a Bigger Weapon
is full of "anthems for the struggle," and like the best of George Clinton, James Brown, and KRS-One, this is music for your mind, body, and soul. Is it too much to ask to have this added to high school curricula? --Marc Greilsamer