Genocide & Juice
The context: With their second album, 1994's Genocide & Juice, rap's cuddliest Marxist revolutionaries transform the tragedy of capitalist inequality and inner-city poverty into a rollicking, irreverent comedy of manners with quirky character sketches, politically charged story-songs, and infectious proletariat anthems. Imagine Tom Wolfe reborn as a funky black communist, and you have a fair approximation of Genocide & Juice's singular satirical brilliance. Who knew the revolution had such a winning sense of humor?
The greatness: Wildly charismatic, giant-afroed Coup frontman Boots Riley begins the album with a dazzlingly ambitious three-song story suite. On the knockout single "Fat Cats, Bigga Fish," his enterprising small-time hustler gets schooled in the harsh realities of capitalism when he sneaks into a fancy party and overhears upper-class masters of the universe cynically pimping the system and exploiting the inner city. The next track, "Pimps," plunges deeper into the chichi soirée and finds David Rockefeller impressing a female party guest by crowing "We have this thing we do with our voices. We sing like authentic rappers!" before kicking billionaire braggadocio alongside J. Paul Getty and a reggae-fied Donald Trump. The underclass strikes back in "Takin' These," when Boots and E-Roc—who left The Coup after this album—literally crash the party and pull a socio-political jack move.
Defining song: It's tough to beat the aforementioned story-suite but the heart of the album is "Santa Rita Weekend," an atmospheric, melancholy slice of slow-rolling jailhouse funk in which Riley and E-Roc are joined by Bay Area compatriots Spice 1 and E-40, who prove that politics can be gangsta and gangstas can be political.