The Coup Want You

Photo by Winni Wintermeyer

“I’m here to laugh, love, fuck and drank liquor/and help the damn revolution come quicker ...”

—The Coup, “Laugh, Love and Fuck”

“My Favorite Mutiny,” the current single from East Bay radical hip-hop outfit The Coup, is their first new music since 2001’s Party Music — the disc whose infamous original cover art depicted the World Trade Center going up in smoke. Actually designed in the summer of 2001, that visual was intended as a heartfelt but tongue-in-cheek statement against capitalism; the album was pulled from shelves and given a new cover after real life imitated agitprop. Their new stuff proves The Coup haven’t lost their ire. Leader Boots Riley is the son of civil-rights activists, and agitation, not thug posturing, is in his blood. But this ain’t just Marxist theory; it’s the poetry and stank of real life sans the tatted Hollywood fantasy of nigga realness. Through funk-drizzled production — and fang-baring but often grin-inducing lyrics — Riley finesses the murky line between fetishizing and commodifying ghetto despair. Of course, that nuance is largely what has relegated The Coup to the cult fringe while thug hucksters earn ducats and icon status for the crocodile tears (and pointless blood) they shed as they drape themselves in martyr garb. Featuring cameos by Talib Kweli and Black Thought, “Mutiny” thumps a tense, almost ominous bass that’s tempered by background horns and keyboards as the rappers trade off blistering verses, with Boots shining brightest: “Let’s get off the chain like Kunta Kinte wit a MAC-10/They want us gone like a dollar in a crack den/Steadily subtractin’ seeds and stems/Mind cloudy through the wheeze and phlegm/Numbin’ my brain offa that and the Jesus hymns/If we waitin’ for the time to fight, these is thems...” In the era of hip-pop, the production is straight 99-cent-store — bare basics that surprise you with their effectiveness. But it’s the retro-synth party of B-track “Laugh, Love, Fuck” that really captures the essence of The Coup. They know that in a world which routinely crushes dreams and spirits, laughter is a tonic, sex is both escapist sanctuary and spiritual balm, and talk of freedom and resistance goes down better with a beer, a blunt and a plate of barbecued chicken. They know that true revolution plays out on many overlapping grids and that any rhetoric of radicalism that is divorced from hope and tangible love — of self, of people, of community — is just more bullshit cluttering up the airwaves.


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