Belvedere Jehosophat - Thursday, 25 September 2003
I once watched an episode of Home and Away, the story-line of which involved a young lady working in a diner who, unable to do the small sums necessary to the running of said establishments, caused both irritation to her short-changed customers and consternation to her union-bound boss.
A solution was found in the form of a cheap calculator, allowing the young lady to sum whatever sums needed summing. It's just a trick, just an indoctrination scheme.
Steal This Double Album has been a sort of holy grail for a few years now, and when I finally got my hands on it I imagine I felt a lot like Sir Galahad would have felt, only with less gay a name.
This CD, originally released a few years ago as Steal This Album, quickly went out of print leaving only residual traces of its existence on a smattering of P2P networks.
When I spotted this CD—which, incidentally, I checked for only on a whim—I let out a squeal shrill enough to disorient most species of bats.
What made this particular CD so alluring was that the re-release included two bonus tracks and an extra live CD.
Boots Riley is one of the most gifted lyricists in hip hop—and quite possibly in music—today, and he is also a dirty communist. And, despite whatever thoughts you might have about the tenets of communism, it's nice to see that the spirit of revolution is alive and well, especially in hip hop, whose mainstream has long been pierced by the spectral hands and receding gum-lines of the marketplace.
Most of the songs on the album are left-leaning and anti-capitalist, but, unlike Mr. Lif's direct dropping of the truth, The Coup, well, Boots Riley, opts for weaving tales of ordinary blue-collar people and their shitty blue-collar lives. I'd say that the closest lyrical relative of The Coup are the Dead Kennedys, another band that pushed its political message using wit and weaved tales.
Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night is a "sordid" tale about a young man who sees his mother beaten to death by a pimp, and, who, despite getting his revenge, can't help internalising some of the pimps values.
Breathing Apparatus is a song about a guy who's been shot and is scared that they're gonna turn off his respirator because he hasn't any insurance — "my only insurance was to not get shot."
The Repo Man Sings for You (featuring Del Tha Funkee Homosapien) is about malevolent repo men, and by extension the culture that spawns their existence. Piss on Your Grave is a tender little paean to Boot's desire to piss on the grave of George Washington. And Cars & Shoes is a funny little song about the crappy cars that Boots drives and by extension the culture that spawns their existence.
The two bonus tracks on the CD, What the Po-po's hate and Swervin are both pretty amazing, and, in a rare occurrence for bonus tracks, are as good as the songs that were on the original pressing of the album.
I just spilled my cup of tea, and now my socks are wet.
There are a couple of guests on the album; the most notable being Del That Funkee Homosapien. E-Roc shows up for one song as do a group called F.T.S., who I'd never heard of before.
This album contains some of the funkiest music I've ever heard, or, at least, it's the funkiest music that I own. Unlike a lot of hip hoppers that merely sample funk records and, in doing so, make their CDs sound rather sterile, The Coup made the wise decision of incorporating mostly live instrumentation.
Of course, the use of live instrumentation isn't innovative, but The Coup do it especially well—I tell you; it's a rare thing when music warms my tepid spik blood just enough to make me want to shake my boot-ay. Meh, I'm happy with my lot.
The live CD is also pretty amazing; however, the sound quality isn't the best. There were times, especially during the beginning, when I thought that I was listening to a tape that was stretching.
It sounds like The Coup took a live band on tour with them, allowing them to mix up the songs a little. For example, the sampled vocal melody of Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night is replaced by what sounds like a harpsichord playing along to the same chord progression.
There are also several times when DJ Pam the Funkstress is allowed to strut her stuff turntable-wise. The second time that she's called to perform a little wizardry, however, one of her tables breaks or loses volume or something— "technical difficulties," they say—leaving the band sounding kind of sheepish and promising that DJ Pam will figure out what the problem is.
A second attempt at strutting also turns to shit, and it's by the third time when everything gets sorted out and everyone sounds pleased with the results. Me, I can't tell, I care for turntablism about as much as I care for killer guitar solos, meaning I couldn't care a lick. <--- Woo! Thanks for playing along!
Outside of that small hiccup the live CD is pretty spectacular.
The cons: Skits. Two of them... fuck. Aside from that, this is one of the best albums that I have bought this year and it's one of the best hip hop records that I've ever heard. I suggest you buy it, even though I know you won't.
The Coup look like this:
in loving memory of loving memories