Jump to content

The Coup

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Coup
The Coup in 2012
The Coup in 2012
Background information
OriginOakland, California, United States
Years active1991–present
LabelsWild Pitch, EMI, Dogday, 75 Ark, Tommy Boy, Warner Bros., Epitaph, ANTI-
MembersBoots Riley
B'nai Rebelfront
Hassan Hurd
J.J. Jungle
L.J. Holoman
Past membersE-Roc
Latoya London
Grego Simmons
Pam the Funkstress (deceased)

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 Crass, Dead Prez and Rage Against the Machine.

The Coup's music is driven by assertive 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, white patriarchal exploitation, police brutality, marijuana addiction, romance, and disparities among races and social classes.


First decade[edit]

The Coup's debut release 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 (the title of which pays tribute to 1960s radical Abbie Hoffman's yippie manifesto, Steal this Book) to critical acclaim in 1998. 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".[1]

Party Music and post-9/11 aftermath[edit]

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.[2] 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."[3]


On November 15, 2005, Tarus Jackson (AKA Terrance), who had joined the group as a promoter, was fatally shot during a robbery at his home in Oakland.[4]

December 2, 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.[5] 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. The ensuing insurance payment was delayed in its arrival, and 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 miniseries 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.[6]


On Wednesday January 13, 2010, The Coup’s bassist Dewey Tucker was shot and killed on the I-80 freeway in Hercules, CA, while driving from his home in Vallejo, CA, to rehearsal with The Coup in Oakland, CA. It was later found to be a case of mistaken identity.[7][8]

The Coup's sixth album, a concept album entitled Sorry to Bother You, was released on October 30, 2012, to wide acclaim.[9] The first track, "The Magic Clap", was leaked by the band themselves and posted below an article on August 13, 2012.[10]

The album Sorry to Bother You was inspired by a screenplay written by Riley, "a dark comedy with magical realism" that drew inspiration from his time spent working as a telemarketer.[11] The film's screenplay was published by McSweeney's in 2014.[12] Riley was able to secure funding to turn the script into the film Sorry to Bother You, which was released in theaters by Annapurna Pictures on July 6, 2018. The film, which follows a young African-American telemarketer who adopts a white accent in order to thrive at his job, stars Lakeith Stanfield, with Armie Hammer, Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, and Danny Glover in supporting roles.[13]

Having taken six years after their last album, The Coup recorded a full soundtrack to the film, entitled The Soundtrack to Sorry to Bother You, and released the first single, "OYAHYTT (feat. Lakeith Stanfield)", on July 13, 2018. Guest artists included Janelle Monae, Killer Mike, and E40. Songs from the 2012 album were not in the actual film. Vinyl for the album was released in February 2020.

Band members[edit]

Boots Riley[edit]

" 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."

—Boots Riley

Among other things, Boots Riley is known for charismatic, and seemingly inexhaustibly energetic, punk-like stage presence.[14]

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.

In July 2002, Riley was a guest on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect and repeatedly referred to himself as a communist. Maher criticized him by saying that communists don't sell records.[15]

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.[16]

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[17] 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.[18][19][20] Pitchfork said she "sings and struts like Tina Turner raised on hip-hop.[21] 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.[22]

There was a single and video from the album, "Hard Times", which received some MTV airtime.[23]

Hassan Hurd[edit]

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.[18][19][24]

JJ Jungle[edit]

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[edit]

Grego Simmons plays guitar for The Coup. He also plays with Goapele and Ursus Minor.[citation needed]

B'nai Rebelfront[edit]

B'nai Rebelfront plays guitar for The Coup. In the past, B'nai has played for R&B singer Tweet, and Tony! Toni! Toné! [citation needed]

Pam the Funkstress[edit]

Pam the Funkstress (born Pam Warren), DJ for The Coup, was a student of the late DJ Prince of Charm. Pam the Funkstress went on to be the last tour DJ for Prince prior to his death. Prince gave Pam the name "Purple Pam". In addition to DJing, she owned and operated a successful catering business in Northern California. Pam did not usually tour with The Coup. On December 22, 2017, Pam died at age 51, due to complications following organ transplant surgery.[25][26]


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.[citation needed]

Lionel "LJ" Holoman[edit]

Lionel "LJ" Holoman is a keyboardist for The Coup. In the past, Holoman worked with 50 Cent, B-Legit, Joss Stone and many other well known artist.[citation needed]


DJO was part of The Coup as the original DJ before being replaced by Pam the Funkstress. He appeared in The Coup's first EP in 1991 and contributed to a handful of songs from “Kill My Landlord” before departing from the group.

Cultural impact[edit]


  • 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".[27] 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.[28]
  • 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.[29][30][31]
  • My Favorite Mutiny Zine is a zine named after The Coup's song of the same name. It was based in Wyoming and appears to have stopped printing in 2011 or 2012.[32]


  • 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.[33]
  • The 1998 song "Way Past Dark" was released as an exclusive track to the ICU (Ill Crew Universal) album "The Revival."[34]
  • 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".[35]


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.[36][37]


Studio albums[edit]

Extended plays[edit]

  • The EP (1991)
  • La Grande Boutique (2014)[38]

Music videos[edit]

From Kill My Landlord[edit]

  • "Not Yet Free", directed by Kevin Bray
  • "Dig It", Directed by Robert Caruso[39]
  • "Funk (Remix)", Directed by Abraham Lim[40]

From Genocide and Juice[edit]

  • "Takin' These"[41]
  • "Fat Cats and Bigga Fish", Directed by Andrei Rozen[42]

From Steal This Album[edit]

  • "Me And Jesus The Pimp In A '79 Grenada Last Night", Directed by Boots Riley[43]

From Party Music[edit]

  • "Ride The Fence", Directed by Haik Hoisington[44]

From Pick a Bigger Weapon[edit]

  • "We Are The Ones", Directed by Vince Tocce[45]

From Sorry to Bother You[edit]

  • "The Magic Clap", Directed by Pete Lee[46]
  • "Land Of 7 Billion Dances", Directed by Yak Films[47]
  • "The Guillotine", Directed by Beau Patrick Coulon[48]
  • "Your Parents' Cocaine (Featuring Justin Sane from Anti-Flag)", Directed by Eat The Fish[49]
  • "The Magic Clap (Version 2, featuring Patton Oswalt)", Directed by Pete Lee[49]
  • "Long Island Iced Tea, Neat (featuring Japanther)", Directed by Kelly Gallagher[50]

Song uses in media[edit]


  1. ^ Hunt, Sam (2002-08-26). "Buy This Album". Dusted Magazine. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  2. ^ "The Coup Cover Art". snopes.com. 20 September 2001. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  3. ^ Malkin, Michelle (2001-12-28). "Stop giving America a bad rap". Jewish World Review. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  4. ^ "Member of The Coup Killed in Robbery". Hiphopmusic.com. 2005-11-16. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  5. ^ "The Coup survives bus crash; cancels tour dates!". 2006-12-04. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  6. ^ Sir! No Sir! (2005) – IMDb, retrieved 2022-04-01
  7. ^ "More Musician Deaths: Teddy Pendergrass and the Coup's Bassist Dewey Tucker". 14 January 2010.
  8. ^ "Vallejo: Man convicted of murder in death of musician Dewey Tucker". 26 October 2012.
  9. ^ "The Coup". ANTI. 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  10. ^ Hudson, Alex (2012-08-13). "The Coup Return with 'Sorry to Bother You', Get Killer Mike, Das Racist to Guest". Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  11. ^ Michael Mechanic (2011-01-03). "Boots Riley Is Sorry to Bother You". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  12. ^ Riley, Boots (2014). Sorry to Bother You. San Francisco: McSweeny's.
  13. ^ Kiefer, Halle. "Sorry to Bother You, But the Sorry to Bother You Redband Trailer Is Here". Vulture. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  14. ^ "The Coup". Punknews.org. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Politically Incorrect – Boots Riley – part 2 of 2". YouTube. 5 July 2008. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  16. ^ "Norfolk Drops Criminal Charges against Music Artist for On-stage Comments | American Civil Liberties Union". Aclu.org. 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  17. ^ Tom Morello, Boots Riley's Street Sweeper to tour with Nine Inch Nails, March 6. 2009 Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  18. ^ a b "Show Recap". Hip-Hop.com. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  19. ^ a b "The Coup at Cabooze, 11/27/12". Gimme Noise. 28 November 2012. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  20. ^ "Afropunk – WESU 88.1 FM". Wesufm.org. 28 August 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Articles". Pitchfork. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  22. ^ "Urban Therapy – Silk-E – Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  23. ^ "Silk E feat San Quinn – Hard times (1999)". YouTube. 15 January 2007. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  24. ^ "Concert review: Oakland rapper Boots Riley leads a Coup at the Majestic Theatre". madison.com. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  25. ^ Daniel Kreps (2017-12-23). "Pam the Funkstress, the Coup DJ, Dead at 51". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2020-03-19.
  26. ^ "Report: Bay Area hip-hop star Pam the Funkstress, who was Prince's DJ, has died". Mercurynews.com. 23 December 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  27. ^ AlterNet / By Jeff Chang (2002-01-08). "The New Coup Debut". Alternet. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  28. ^ Prashad, Vijay (2002). Fat Cats & Running Dogs: The Enron Stage of Capitalism – Vijay Prashad – Google Boeken. Zed Books. ISBN 9781842772614. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  29. ^ Hildebrand, Lee (2013-10-23). "Rickey Vincent's Party Music: The KPFA DJ's new book chronicles how The Black Panther Party used funk to spread its revolutionary message". East Bay Express. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  30. ^ "RICKEY VINCENT, A Tribute "Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers' Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music" With Davey D, Blanche Richardson, James Mott and William Calhoun". KPFA 94.1 FM Berkeley. Archived from the original on 2014-01-27. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  31. ^ Vincent, Rickey (2013). Party music: the inside story of the Black Panthers' band and how black power transformed soul music (First ed.). Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books. ISBN 9781613744925.
  32. ^ "Welcome to Facebook – Log In, Sign Up or Learn More". Facebook. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  33. ^ "E-40 – Practice Lookin' Hard". YouTube. 2009-11-24. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  34. ^ "Discogs". Discogs. 1998-08-14. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  35. ^ Ian S. Port (2013-09-04). "Unsettled: Jel and the Anticon Label Celebrate 15 Years of Weirdo Hip-Hop – Page 1 – Music – San Francisco". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  36. ^ "The Coup – Not Yet Free". YouTube. 2007-02-11. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  37. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2014-02-17. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  38. ^ The Coup (October 20, 2013). "The Coup is recording an EP of new material on our days off in the France. It'll be named after the studio/venue that we're sleeping at: "La Grande Boutique"". Facebook. Archived from the original on 2022-02-26. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  39. ^ "The Coup – Dig It". YouTube. 31 May 2006. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  40. ^ "The Coup – Funk". YouTube. 13 June 2006. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  41. ^ "The Coup – Takin these". YouTube. 25 August 2007. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  42. ^ "The Coup – Fat Cats and Bigga Fish". YouTube. 31 May 2006. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  43. ^ "The Coup – Me & Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2010-10-24. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  44. ^ "The Coup – Ride The Fence". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2010-10-24. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  45. ^ "THE COUP – WE ARE THE ONES (Music Video by Vince Tocce)". YouTube. 12 June 2006. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  46. ^ "The Coup – "The Magic Clap"". YouTube. 31 August 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  47. ^ "THE COUP "Land Of 7 Billion Dances" Hip Hop Oakland – YAK FILMS". YouTube. 10 September 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  48. ^ "The Coup – "The Guillotine"". YouTube. 12 October 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  49. ^ a b "The Coup – "Your Parents' Cocaine (w/ Justin Sane from Anti-Flag)"". YouTube. 9 November 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  50. ^ "The Coup feat. Japanther- "Long Island Iced Tea, Neat" Official Music Video". YouTube. 3 December 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-11. Retrieved 29 September 2014.

External links[edit]