Funk / Hip-hop / Soul – Oakland, California
Based in Oakland, California, the Coup is a perfect amalgamation of dance & inspired protest, and more than a dash of pure fun. Front man Boots Riley shakes his metaphorical fist at all manner of political and economic injustices, while you shake your booty at the Parliament-inspired grooves. Formed as a three-member group in 1992 with emcees Raymond Riley and E-Roc, along with DJ Pam the Funkstress, their music is characterized by electronic sounds and bass-driven backbeats, overlaid by humorous, cynical and often uncompromising lyrics, criticizing capitalism, American politics, patriarchal exploitation, and police brutality, among other things.
1998′s Steal This Album, released by indie label Dogday Records, was received as a masterpiece and sealed the Coup’s rep. But the band’s next record, Party Music, scheduled for release shortly after 9/11, became a cultural flashpoint amidst Cheney-Ashcroft hysteria as the album’s original cover, completed three months prior to 9/11, depicted the crew setting off an explosion in the World Trade Center using a guitar tuner and drumsticks. The band’s label, 75 Ark, pulled the cover immediately after the attacks. “As far as the record industry was concerned, it was the end of my career,” Boots says. Instead, Boots’ defiant refusal to “ride the fence” and the album’s undeniable funk made it an underdog favorite, hitting #8 in the 2001 Pazz and Jop Poll, the most important year-end critic’s list. Then, in 2003, the Coup joined with Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Tom Morello, and Janeane Garofalo, on the barnstorming, Bush-slapping “Tell Us the Truth” tour.