The Life of Riley 

With a brand-new album and a brand-new baby, the Coup's leader discourses on the dichotomy of bullets and love.

Page 7 of 7

Genocide and Juice
Wild Pitch, 1994
Boots & Co.'s sophomore effort shows considerable artistic growth. The discernable sense of song cycle — several tunes are linked thematically — makes it an anomaly in an increasingly single-oriented rap industry, and Boots' musings on everyday socioeconomics still hold relevance today. While most "conscious" MCs of this era were disassociating themselves from their gangsta rap brethren, Boots dueted with E-40 on "Santa Rita Weekend," an underappreciated gem that preceded the onset of controversial juvenile crime initiative Prop. 21 by several years. Key Tracks: "Fat Cats, Bigga Fish," "Pimps," "Taking These," "Santa Rita Weekend."

Steal This Album
DogDay, 1998
Almost as good as Genocide and Juice, this album came at a time when conscious rappers were few and far in-between. It goes against the grain, if you look at what else was happening in rap that year — Jay-Z and P. Diddy putting New York on bling status; Master P's ultragutter, superghetto, Dirty Southern No Limit dynasty — yet in retrospect, it's entirely consistent with the revolutionary ideals the Coup has always espoused. In some ways, this album represents the end of an era: It was the last to feature original member E-Roc, who left the group to become a longshoreman. Key Tracks: "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Grenada Last Night," "Breathing Apparatus," "The Shipment."

Party Music
75 Ark, 2001
Although never released with the original cover — which was designed before 9/11, depicted Boots and Pam blowing up the World Trade Center with a guitar tuner, and thus was scrapped in the wake of the attacks — Party Music still packed quite a powerful impact. Somewhat overlooked in all the controversy surrounding the album — critically acclaimed, yet plagued by poor distribution — was the group's musical evolution. Noticeably funkier and more uptempo than previous efforts, Party Music's subject matter veered from anticapitalist odes to activist anthems to dietary concerns to advice for Boots' baby daughter. Key Tracks: "Ghetto Manifesto," "Wear Clean Draws," "Ride the Fence," "Pork and Beef."

Pick a Bigger Weapon
Epitaph, 2006
The Coup's fifth album picks up where Party Music left off, upping the funk quotient even higher, expanding the sonic parameters with more live musicianship (including rock guitar and Bernie Worrell-esque keyboards), and putting additional emphasis on personal relationships — within a grassroots revolutionary context, of course. The album also explains what "Ass-Breath Killers" are, and why you need them. Guests Black Thought, Talib Kweli, and Tom Morello add universal appeal to Boots' Oaktown fonk, and the driving, upbeat feel makes the disc sound almost like a dialectical materialist version of crunk at times. Key Tracks: "We Are the Ones," "My Favorite Mutiny," "Ijuswannalay
aroundalldayinbedwith you," "Laugh/Love/Fuck," "Tiffany Hall."

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