THE COUPParty Music (75 Ark)
With their community politics and anti-authoritarian attitude, The Coup can seem as anachronistic as Boots signature Afro. But they only seem out of step because hip-hop has gotten out of touch with reality. In a climate where the musics apolitical stupor makes it incapable of dealing with national crisis, The Coups Party Music is a stark and welcome exception.
The Coup embrace Funkadelics call to free yo minds and asses, and the duo of Boots and DJ Pam the Funkstress rarely descend into the kind of rote didacticism thats plagued other political rappers. While the album has its share of unabashed agitprop -- such as the anti-corporate 5 Million Ways To Kill a CEO and the anti-police Pork and Beef -- Boots doesnt rap to the people, he raps from them, and this black-working-class perspective is far more meaningful than raps more popular thugged-out fantasies. On Party Music, The Coup submerge their message deep into the music, which takes on a blend of squiggly, Clintonian P-funk and backwater, blues-tinged soul. Wear Clean Draws, Boots ode to his young daughter, holds a hand-me-down sagacity. Ghetto Manifesto, a scorching call to everyday rebellion, shows off Boots underrated lyrical acumen. And the real standout is Nowalaters, a short narrative, possibly drawn from Boots past, about a teenager he thought was pregnant with his baby. For most rappers, this would be an opportunity to claim victim status and justify misogynistic rants about gold diggers, but Boots handles the topic with self-awareness and insight.
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Not as consistent as The Coups outstanding Steal This Album from 1998, Party Music still manages to be one of 2001s best, all the more important because of its dissenting political voice in a time when cookie-cut complacency masquerades as patriotism. If hip-hop threatens to evaporate into complete irrelevance, Party Music is one of the few anchors the music can count on.