COUP, THE: Party Music: CD

Oct 18, 2006

The best hip hop gives me the same rush that hearing Black Flag for the first time did—that giddy feeling that this might be the first time anything has ever sounded this cool, the uncontrollable urge to tear a hole in the status quo. Every album I’ve heard from the Coup thus far has elicited that response. They deal in a species of rhyme that is an amalgamation of grooves deep from the Zapp vaults of funk, Public Enemy’s fearless political savvy, and punk’s incendiary assault on the power structure. Like Chuck D, rapper Boots walks the walk, never back-pedaling and always willing to say what he means. To wit, when this album was originally released in September 2001, the original cover, featuring Boots and DJ Pam the Funkstress with the twin towers of the World Trade Center exploding behind them (ostensibly through the force of their music), it was obviously one of those really unfortunate coincidences when reality decides to imitate art. Nonetheless, the album cover vaulted the group into the media spotlight, and for the next few months Boots was forced to defend both the album and his position that, given the long history of US atrocities meted out on other countries in the name of foreign policy, he was not surprised in the least that someone had decided that a little payback was in order, a sentiment that strikes at the core of the nation’s cognitive dissonance with regards to the effect of what is done in its name. Eventually the cover was changed to a less provocative cover featuring a hand holding a martini glass filled with gasoline (a Molotov cocktail, get it?), but the songs, savage attacks on the system, remained intact. Lyrically, this isn’t more fodder to further fuel the “Black man is violent and oversexed/Black woman is a whore” stereotypes that permeate mainstream, corporate hip hop, but rather yet another clarion call to the powers that be that the many at the bottom are getting plenty tired of being pissed on by the arrogant, wealthy few on top and that the time is at hand when the chickens will, indeed, come home to roost. Herein the listener will find subjects covering “5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO,” turning the system upside down, battling the rich (“This whole system works for you to kick it in Paris/or roll through Hong Kong in a Rickshaw carriage/so when you spend a dollar that’s ten seconds of my time/and when you spend a billion/that’s my life and that’s a crime/cuz for me life is hard like the track I’m reppin’ on/callin’ for the freedom of the backs that you steppin’ on”), battling the police, and being down with the underdog. Musically, this bounces hard with the best of ’em, as the Coup make music of substance that is simultaneously angry and fun, an approach that leans more towards prankster agitators like Abbie Hoffman and Crass than dour rebels who have forgotten that insurrection can be cause for celebration. Even if you haven’t a passing interest in hip hop, consider this mandatory for the collection, ’cause rebel jams this fearless are hard to come by.

 –jimmy (Epitaph)

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