The Coup live in 2011
|Origin||Oakland, California, United States|
|Labels||Wild Pitch, EMI, Dogday, 75 Ark, Tommy Boy, Warner Bros., Epitaph, ANTI-|
|Associated acts||Street Sweeper Social Club, Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, E-40, Black Thought, Spice-1, Rage Against The Machine, Anti-Flag, Star Fucking Hipsters, Les Claypool, Galactic, Del the Funky Homosapien, Das Racist, Latoya London, Atari Teenage Riot, Killer Mike, Jolie Holland, Joe Henry, Japanther, Vernon Reid|
Pam the Funkstress
The Coup is an American hip hop band from Oakland, California. Their music is an amalgamation of influences, including funk, punk, hip hop, and soul. Frontman Boots Riley's revolutionarily-charged lyrics rank The Coup as a renowned political hip hop band aligned to radical music groups such as The Clash, Dead Prez and Rage Against the Machine.
The Coup's music is driven by aggressive and danceable bass-driven backbeats overlaid by critical, hopeful, and witty lyrics, often with a bent towards the literary. The Coup's songs critique, observe, and lampoon capitalism, American politics, patriarchal exploitation, police brutality, marijuana addiction, romance, working at fast food places, and disparities among race and class.
- 1 History
- 2 Discography
- 3 Music videos
- 4 The Coup's songs in film, TV, video games, and sports
- 5 Personnel
- 6 Other works inspired by The Coup's music
- 7 Critical reception
- 8 References
The Coup's debut album was 1991s The EP and almost all of the songs on it (except "Economics 101") were put on 1993's Kill My Landlord. In 1994, the group released its second album, Genocide & Juice. The group took a four-year recording hiatus to work as community activists before releasing Steal This Album to critical acclaim in 1998. The record's title pays tribute to 1960s radical Abbie Hoffman's yippee manifesto, Steal this Book. Steal This Album featured the stand-out single, "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a ’79 Granada Last Night." The online magazine Dusted called Steal This Album "the best hip-hop album of the 1990s".
Party Music and post-9/11 aftermath
In 2001, The Coup released Party Music to widespread praise. However, in part because of distribution problems, sales of the album were low. The original album cover art depicted group members Pam the Funkstress and Riley standing in front of the twin towers of the World Trade Center as they are destroyed by huge explosions, and Riley is pushing the button on a guitar tuner. The cover art was finished in June 2001 and the album was scheduled to be released in mid-September. However, in response to the uncanny similarity of the artwork with the September 11, 2001, attacks, the album release was delayed until November of that year with the cover featuring a hand with a flaming martini glass.
The attention generated concerning the album's cover art precipitated some criticism of the group's lyrical content as well, particularly the Party Music track "5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO." The song's lyrics includes lines such as "You could throw a twenty in a vat of hot oil/When he jump in after it, watch him boil." Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin cited the song in calling the Coup's work a "stomach-turning example of anti-Americanism disguised as highbrow intellectual expression."
On 15 November 2005, Tarus Jackson (AKA Terrance), who had joined the group as a promoter, was fatally shot during a robbery at his home in Oakland.
2 December 2006 saw another tragedy for the Coup: About two hours following a performance at the San Diego House of Blues, the tour bus in which the group was riding drove off the road and flipped over before becoming engulfed in flames. All passengers managed to climb out alive, although some were badly injured. The group did, however, lose all of its clothes, computers, cash, identification, house/car keys, cell phones, all of its instruments, and sound equipment. Since an insurance settlement was a long time coming, the group was forced to cancel the rest of its tour.
The group’s songs "My Favorite Mutiny" and "Pork & Beef" were featured in the 2007 film Superbad, with the former also being featured in the HBO mini series 24/7 Flyers-Rangers, as well as in the video game NBA Live 07, while "Ride the Fence" was featured in EA's 2007 skateboarding video game Skate. The song “Captain Sterling’s Little Problem” accompanied the closing credits of Sir, No, Sir, a documentary about the GI anti-war movement.
The Coup's sixth album, a concept album entitled Sorry to Bother You, was released on 30 October 2012, to wide acclaim.The album will double as the soundtrack to an independent feature film of the same title, written by and starring Boots, which will be "a dark comedy with magical realism" and will draw inspiration from his time spent working as a telemarketer. The first track of Sorry to Bother You, "The Magic Clap", was leaked by the band themselves and posted below an article on August 13, 2012. The film's screenplay was published by McSweeny's in 2014.
- Kill My Landlord (1993)
- Genocide & Juice (1994)
- Steal This Album (1998)
- Party Music (2001)
- Pick a Bigger Weapon (2006)
- Sorry to Bother You (2012)
- The EP (1991)
- La Grande Boutique (2014)
Compilation Album Appearances
From Kill My Landlord
- "Not Yet Free", directed by Kevin Bray
- "Dig It", Directed by Robert Caruso
- "Funk (Remix)", Directed by Abraham Lim
From Genocide And Juice
From Steal This Album
- "Me And Jesus The Pimp In A '79 Grenada Last Night", Directed by Boots Riley 
From Party Music
- "Ride The Fence", Directed by Haik Hoisington 
From Pick A Bigger Weapon
- "We Are The Ones", Directed by Vince Tocce 
From Sorry To Bother You
- "The Magic Clap", Directed by Pete Lee 
- "Land Of 7 Billion Dances", Directed by Yak Films 
- "The Guillotine", Directed by Beau Patrick Coulon 
- "Your Parents' Cocaine (Featuring Justin Sane from Anti-Flag)", Directed by Eat The Fish 
- "The Magic Clap (Version 2, featuring Patton Oswalt)", Directed by Pete Lee 
- "Long Island Iced Tea, Neat (featuring Japanther)", Directed by Kelly Gallagher 
The Coup's songs in film, TV, video games, and sports
- "Fat Cats and Bigga Fish"- The Daytrippers
- "Pimps (Freestyling At The Fortune 500 Club)"- Don's Plum
- "Superfly (Theme Song)"- MX Superfly
- "Ride The Fence"- Skate
- "My Favorite Mutiny"- NBA Live 07, Driver: Parallel Lines, Superbad
- "Pork And Beef"- Superbad
- "The Guillotine", from "Sorry To Bother You" was used as the "fight" song for Sporting Kansas City during their championship 2013 season.
|“||I think that people should have democratic control over the profits that they produce. It is not real democracy until you have that. And the plain and simple definition of communism is the people having democratic control over the profits that they create.||”|
Among other things, Boots Riley is known for charismatic, and seemingly inexhaustibly energetic, punk-like stage presence.
In 1991, he and other artists founded the Mau Mau Rhythm Collective, a group set up to use the power of hip hop music to publicize other efforts and movements. The next year, Riley founded The Coup.
Riley was charged with abusive language for allegedly using profanity on stage while performing with the band Galactic in Downtown Norfolk, Virginia, in the city's annual Bayou Boogaloo Festival at Town Point Park in June 2008. This was a result of controversy that started a few weeks prior in the same park when, at a different festival, singer Ray-J used language some found offensive. Riley's charge only carried a small fine. However, the American Civil Liberties Union decided to help him fight it on free speech grounds before the charge was ultimately dismissed by the city shortly thereafter.
During Tom Morello's Fall 2008 tour as the Nightwatchman, Riley appeared on selected dates, and the two debuted a song from an upcoming project called Street Sweeper Social Club. In March 2009, a Web site appeared at the url streetsweepermusic.com, which debuted its first single "Fight! Smash! Win!" It was also announced that the band would be the opening act on the upcoming tour with Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction.
Boots Riley is also an active political/social organizer and speaker. He has been known to work with eviltwinbooking.org and speakoutnow.org, among other groups.
Silk-E is a vocalist with The Coup, performing in-studio and on stage. She joined The Coup in 2003, during promotion of the Party Music album. Known for her wild, engaging performance antics, energetic dancing, and her soulful, gravelly voice. Pitchfork said she "sings and struts like Tina Turner raised on hip-hop  Part of her prowess is due to the fact that she started her career as a rapper. She has a solo album in which she is mainly rapping, entitled "Urban Therapy".
There was a single and video from the album, "Hard Times", which received some MTV airtime.
Hassan Hurd is the drummer for The Coup. Hassan grew up in the church and was first known as a gospel drummer. He is known for the unshakable lock on his groove, explosive power and velocity, and crazy chops. At one point, he quit The Coup for a couple of years to pursue college football.
JJ Jungle is the bassist for The Coup. He joined the group after bassist Dewey Tucker died. JJ Jungle is known for his energy, his never-failing lock into pocket, and his on stage acrobatics. JJ Jungle also has a band with Mike Dillon called "Mike Dillon's Go-Go Jungle".
Grego Simmons plays guitar for The Coup. Grego also plays with Goapele and Ursus Minor.
B'nai Rebelfront plays guitar for The Coup. In the past, B'nai has played for R&B singer Tweet, and Tony! Toni! Toné!
Pam the Funkstress
Pam the Funkstress, DJ for The Coup, was a student of the late DJ Prince of Charm. In addition to DJing, she owns and operates a successful catering business in Northern California. Pam does not usually tour with The Coup.
Eric Davis known as E-roc was part of The Coup as a rapper for the first 2 albums and then left the group in 1997 to become a longshoreman with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Went to St. Elizabeth High School. Lives in Stockton, California.
Lionel "LJ" Holoman
Other works inspired by The Coup's music
- The 2001 novel "Too Beautiful For Words", by Monique W. Morris, was based on The Coup's 1997 7-minute opus "Me And Jesus The Pimp In A '79 Grenada Last Night". Morris kept the original storyline and main characters of the song as the setting for her work. Some of the dialogue in the book is directly from the song as well. The title of the novel is from the refrain of the bridge in The Coup's song. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.
- Vijay Prashad's 2002 book, "Fat Cats and Running Dogs" starts with a quote from The Coup's "Fat Cats and Bigga Fish" as an obvious nod to the inspiration for the title of the book.
- The 2013 book "Party Music", by Rickey Vincent, was inspired by the concept of The Coup's 2001 album "Party Music" and discussions that the author had with Boots Riley about the subject. The book is a history of "The Lumpen", the Black Panther Party's funk band. Riley wrote the introduction to the book.
- "My Favorite Mutiny Zine" is a zine named after The Coup's song of the same name. It was based in Wyoming appears to have stopped printing in 2011 or 2012.
- The 1993 song "Practice Lookin' Hard", by E40, has a chorus and a concept built around the lyric "I got a mirror in my pocket and I practice lookin' hard", from The Coup's 1993 song "Not Yet Free". Boots Riley performs the vocal in the E40 song, and performs in the video alongside Tupac Shakur and E40.
- The 2013 song "Romantisch", by Jel of Anticon fame, has a chorus which is a vocal sample of Boots Riley from The Coup's 1994 song "The Name Game".
The 1997 film "Money Talks" starring Chris Tucker, has exactly the same opening scene as the opening scene of The Coup's 1993 video for "Not Yet Free". In both, the protagonist is riding around in an expensive looking Mercedes-Benz, pulls up to the car wash to park and gets out. In both, it is at this time that we figure out that the protagonist merely works at the car wash. In both, the protagonist holds the keys out in front of the actual owner and feigns as if he's going to hit the owner.
||It has been suggested that this article be split into a new article titled into individual album's articles. (Discuss.) (September 2014)|
Genocide and Juice
- "A sophisticated sense of irony rare in any form of popular music, but nearly unheard of in hip-hop... one of the most overlooked masterpieces in hip-hop history." - The Onion's AV Club 
- "An enormously sophisticated work." -AllMusic 
- "A charismatic, thought-provoking, melodically rich, funky-ass album." -RapReviews 
- "3.5 Mics" -The Source 
Steal This Album
- "The entire album rocks harder than a detonated dirty bomb... repeated listens bring out the nuances of Boots' politics and humor. The skills on display here will have you seeing red-colored stars for days." -Pitchfork 
- "Every track impresses... Ideologues believe communist artists are never this humorous, this balanced, this concrete. They're wrong." -Robert Christgau, Rolling Stone 
- "What makes Steal This Album such a giant leap forward is Boots' newfound ability to render the debilitating effects of poverty and hopelessness in wrenching, dramatic vignettes that transcend the boundaries of hip hop and achieve a literary power that's more akin to the short stories of James Baldwin than the work of other rappers." -The Onion's AV Club 
- "The best hip-hop album of the 1990s" -Dusted
- "Album Of The Year"- Washington Post 
- "Album Of The Year"- San Francisco Chronicle 
- "Imperfect, definitely. But only because perfection is on the table."- Village Voice 
- "Riley is one of the few artists in rock's whole history to make effective music out of the inhumanity of capital."- Robert Christgau 
Pick A Bigger Weapon
- "Album Of The Year"- Associated Press 
- "More about real life than rhetoric... it's the rare record that makes revolution sound like hot fun on a Saturday night." -Rolling Stone 
- "Fact is, the brother's some writer... Riley understands as well as any songwriter in America how the black poor and other barely employeds get by, and he also understands who's taking their money, and how. His lesser songs would be dookie gold on an ordinary undie-rap album."- Village Voice 
- "[Riley] also wields his chops as one of the most talented arrangers in hip-hop. Each track is laced with sparkling, live-instrument love letters."- Time Out Chicago 
- "Pick A Bigger Weapon is their best. It's their most musically realized, stylistically diverse, and
personal record to date"- Filter 
- "The Coup is the best hip-hop act of the past decade."- Billboard 
Sorry To Bother You
- "Boots Riley of The Coup ranks as some kind of genius."- NY Daily News 
- "A-. It's a concept album, a bold provocation, a statement, a riot, and a hell of a party to boot."- Onion AV Club 
- "Album of the year. It’s a dance record, a P.E.-worthy political statement, and the best indie-rock album of the year, all rolled up into one glorious, cacophonous party."- Popblerd 
- "What’s different from earlier Coup albums is the increasing sophistication of the songwriting, a more nuanced sense of vulnerability, that makes the group accessible to rebels and non-revolutionaries alike."- Chicago Tribune 
- "Music remains the Coup's ultimate sweetener, and here the jams hit hard like the words... Minus his observations — his sympathy, his grasp of the chasm between dreams and regrets, his compassion — the song's subjects might be no more than a dot on the crime ticker."- Spin 
- "Holding all of this together, as always, is Riley's sharp humor. The Coup have always been a party band first and foremost, and Sorry to Bother You reaffirms their belief that the revolution, if there is going to be one, will start at the hips."- Pitchfork 
- "Riley’s latest work with The Coup is more aggressive, danceable, melodic and weird than the hip-hop outfit’s past releases."- Wired 
- "Like Sly and the Family Stone channeled through the Gorillaz... playful, funky, rocking and thought-provoking throughout." -Tucson Weekly 
- "Boots Riley is a national treasure."- Stereogum 
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