“Fuck no, I ain’t got no grey poupon!”
You’ve got to give the Bay Area rascals The Coup credit: A Communist-leaning…rap group? Seriously? As in, they openly, sometimes violently refute all manners of capitalism in a genre which is (unfortunately) steeped in money, status and materialism? Really?
Yeah, believe it or not. And they’re pretty damn dope too.
Coming out of Oakland, CA, a city well-known for its activism, The Coup is rapper and activist Boots Riley and deejay Pam the Funkstress (along with former member E-Roc appearing on their first two records). The group was an outlier when they hit the scene in the early ’90s, coming with hard funk in their sounds and revolution in their lyrics, slamming the power structure for greed and corruption and chastising fellow rappers for chasing cash like a carrot on a string. The Coup brought plenty of heart and soul to the music, Boots being a slick and passionate freedom fighter with a penchant for humor and fascinating tales and Pam’s deejaying and production skills being a cut above many others. They’ve been making consistently engaging music since their inception.
Personally, I came on board with Steal This Album, The Coup’s third record from 1998, which blew my young and impressionable mind due to how refreshing it sounded. I mean really, “Me and Jesus the Pimp in a ’79 Granada Last Night” is still one of hip-hop’s most heartbreaking tales, and “Breathing Apparatus” is STILL a very relevant listen in 2014 as America continues to bicker about health care. I’ll get to those songs one day, hopefully in the next decade, but right now I wanted to focus on a listen from their second outing, 1994’s Genocide & Juice, the album title a twisted and eyebrow-raising nod to Snoop Dogg‘s ’93 party jam, and the cannon shot to the world at large that they were ready to rebel. I’ve had the record on repeat quite a bit lately, and while I still kinda give the edge to Steal This Album, Genocide knocks, thanks to listens like this one.
“Pimps” is a raucous, tongue-in-cheek banger with some unfortunate truths to it as well. Boots and E-Roc take on the personas of illustrious business magnates, inspired by figures like J. Paul Getty and John D. Rockefeller, and rap about how they rule the goddamn world. They start wars, control the populace through economics and the cops, and celebrate being rich and all-powerful. Also check the special guest feature from Donald Trump! Hilarious? Yes. Unsettling? Yes. Insulting? Well, these fat cats do try to act like rappers in the comfort of their exclusive soiree, knowing damn well that hip-hop is another business to exploit and poor minorities can’t get anywhere near them, so why not! It doesn’t seem so far removed from real life. It’s a striking listen, especially for hip-hop, because no matter how rich a rapper gets, he’s not making that Bill Gates money. Twenty years removed from this listen the rich are richer, the poor are poorer, we’re on the other side of the Occupy protests and ain’t nothing changed. Hey…maybe a stickup IS needed.