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The Coup: still putting the Boots to the ruling class

The Coup
John Bell

November 24, 2012

Sorry To Bother You, The Coup (ANTI- , 2012)
Music review by John Bell
Thanks to Boots Riley, revolutionary party takes on a whole new meaning. With Sorry To Bother You, the Coup’s main man continues to hook rap’s most political lyrics onto some of the funkiest and funnest beats on offer.
Rap purists may mourn the Coup’s continuing forays into funk and rock, but Riley has never stayed still musically. In the six years since the last Coup recording he has been recording and touring with Tom Morello under the banner of Street Sweeper Social Club, recording–in Riley’s words–rap/rock “anthems for the revolution”.
Some of that spirit lives on in Sorry To Bother You. Opener “Magic Clap” is rousing and danceable, and I defy anyone not to start shuffling along to “The Guillotine”. And Riley pulls no punches lyrically:
They got the TV–we got the truth
They own the judges and we got the proof
We got hella people–they got helicopters
They got the bomb and we got the–we got the
We got the guillotine.
On Sorry To Bother You The Coup sacrifice the thematic cohesion of past efforts like Genocide and Gin (has it really been almost 20 years since they recorded that rap masterpiece?) in favour of surprise and diversity. The loopy “Your Parents Cocaine” sounds like a mash-up of the Clash and Frank Zappa. The lush, tender love song “Violet” is a sharp change of pace and tone.
If the sense of musical fun, and jumping across genre lines is an attempt to reach a broader audience, that’s a good thing. I wish every kid on the continent was rocking out to “Strange Arithmetic” (a plea for real, liberating education) and “You Are Not A Riot” (a witty slam on hipster poseurs).
Boots is a proud Marxist (the very first line on the Coup’s first recording was “Presto, Read the Communist Manifesto”) and has been a driving force in the Occupy movement in his native Oakland. He writes in the liner notes, “Changing the system is actually on the table, if we don’t take it off the table ourselves.” That clarity and optimism buoys up even the harshest lyrics, reminding us that revolution is, among other things, a festival.

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We Got the Guillotine

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