After watching 2002’s Frida, the okay-not-spectacular biopic on Frida Kahlo, the one thing that stuck with me after watching it was its depiction of hard-partying political revolutionaries. Listening to the Coup’s latest full-length, Pick A Bigger Weapon, I was reminded of watching Kahlo (Salma Hayek) outdrink her husband Diego Rivera, and whoever was played by Antonio Banderas. Boots Riley and Pam the Funkstress may be outspoken about their agenda and their ambitions, but they always keep in mind the goal they aim to fight for, as Boots puts it in “Laugh/Love/Fuck”: “I’m here to laugh, love, fuck and drink liquor/and help the damn revolution come quicker.”
While artists like Against Me! and Anti-Flag are no doubt sincere in their efforts toward making America a better and freer place, they seem to have forgotten how to have a good time in the process. The Coup, however, mix their political rallying calls with sex jams and party anthems, with no shortage of funk provided by Pam the Funkstress, as well as guest musicians Tom Morello and members of Parliament/Funkadelic and The Gap Band. Boots Riley’s delivery is always commanding and on point, not to mention surprisingly adaptable to the beats provided by Pam. On “We Are the Ones” Riley affects a snobby, uppity vocal before demanding to smash the state, because “that’s just polite.” On “ShoYoAss,” Riley chants “stand up and organize” over early Prince-like grooves. “I Just Wanna Lay Around All Day In Bed With You” sees him making with the booty calls in a soulful slow jam, while going for a lazy, good time soul chorus in “I Love Boosters!”
The Coup even makes their skits worthwhile, inviting Jello Biafra to portray an Omnimart supervisor in “Two Enthusiastic Thumbs Down.” There’s no shortage of anger and unrest driving The Coup’s agit-jams, but each one is executed for maximum danceability, thus proving that revolutionaries have more fun. Pick a Bigger Weapon is a smart record, one that addresses societal ills like rampant ghetto drug use well as worldwide crises like the Iraq War, but done so with humor, notoriously having Bush and Hussein perform fellatio on one another in “Head.” This is to laugh, love and fuck to, and if it helps the damn revolution come quicker, even better.
Talib Kweli – Quality
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
Dead Prez – Let’s Get Free
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.