By Phil Leckman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday Jan. 15, 2002
It really shouldn't be much fun to be a Communist these days. Even without that whole collapse-of-the-U.S.S.R.-repudiation-of-Marxism thing, the chilly post-Sept. 11 political climate would seem to cast a pall over those advocating a violent workers' rebellion in the United States. Apparently, somebody forgot to tell this to Boots Reilly, rapper and lyricist for Oakland-based group The Coup. From the red star and armed peasant in the group's quasi-Maoist logo to song titles like "5 Million Ways to Kill a C.E.O.," The Coup makes it abundantly clear that the "party" in the album's title is that of Marx and Lenin. Pleasantly enough, it's also the other kind of party as well.
Even in its heyday, world Communism was not exactly associated with a knock-down, drag-out good time. But Reilly, DJ Pam the Funkstress and their comrades deliver a product that is no way alienated from the means of getting your groove on. While militant tunes like the aforementioned "C.E.O." could easily sound strident, Reilly's lazy drawl combines with a funky disco backbeat for an effect that's as entertaining and amusing as it is revolutionary. Other standouts, such as "Ghetto Manifesto," a cunning juxtaposition of revolutionary imagery with hip-hop cliches, similarly weave humor, compassion and politics, couching Reilly's message in crafty wordplay, danceable beats and a keen eye for irony. Make no mistake: The Coup's agenda is admittedly radical. But Reilly's wry, compassionate lyrical voice is nonetheless reassuring. This is a revolution where dancing is not just allowed but encouraged.