Boots Riley is so good, it's too bad he's not more prolific. Although Riley has led the highly politicized, thoroughly funky (and often quite funny) Oakland agit-rap band The Coup since 1991, he and his musical partner Pam the Funkress didn't arrive in the mainstream consciousness until the The Coup's 2001 Party Music album.
That was the one whose ill-timed cover shot of the detonating World Trade Center towers was planned before the Sept. 11 attacks and subsequently recalled before the album's release. That controversy succeeded in introducing The Coup to a larger audience than they had for 1998's Abbie Hoffman-inspired title Steal This Album, and it introduced listeners to Riley's sharp-eyed intelligence and quick wit.
The Coup kept it up with 2006's Pick A Bigger Weapon, which featured a cameo by Black Thought of The Roots and whose politics of that moment in time are reflected in the song title "BabyLet'sHaveABabyBeforeBushDoSomethingCrazy.": Since then Riley's moved his Black Power poltics into a rock-rap realm with Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello on the not-entirely-successful 2009 self-titled album Street Sweeper Social Club.
The Coup play The Blockley in West Philadelphia tonight with Riley and Pam augmented by a full, Funkadelic-influenced band. Later this year, a new Coup album featuring guest spots from Lupe Fiasco, Taj Mahal and Das Racist, among others, is scheduled for release. It's the soundtrack to a movie called Sorry To Bother You, which Riley wrote and will star in, and which he has said is a dark comedy about learning "how to use your powers of persuasion for evil." "We Are The Ones" is below. Ticket details here.