The Coup's exquisitely literate hip-hop humanism makes the everyday seem heroic and the heroic seem everyday. Not since Soviet lads and lasses sang passionately to their tractors has the proletariat been as nakedly idealized as it is on Pick A Bigger Weapon, the stirring fifth album from the Bay Area's beloved musical Marxist troublemakers.
Putting a socialist twist on the P-Funk mothership, producer/frontman Boots Riley has assembled a formidable live band that includes Audioslave's Tom Morello, Tony Toni Toné's Dwayne Wiggins, and alumni of Maze and The Gap Band for an album as ambitious musically as it is lyrically. Pick A Bigger Weapon is permeated in the lascivious grooves of greasy funk, the official genre of fucking—and in Boots' hands, at least, also the official genre of working-class uprisings and the overthrow of capitalist oppressors. On tracks like "I Just Wanna Lay Around All Day In Bed With You" and "Laugh/Love/Fuck," Boots fuses sexuality and celebration with naked politics just as seamlessly as he combines irreverent humor and heartwarming humanism.
The elegant character study "Tiffany Hall" is simultaneously a wrenching, gorgeous little short story of a song and a trenchant condemnation of society's warped beauty standards, as well as their devastating consequences. "ShoYoAss," "I Love Boosters," and "My Favorite Mutiny" are all fist-pumping, adrenalized anthems, while "Ass-Breath Killers" asks why people should choose between crude humor and sophisticated political metaphors when they can comfortably co-exist in the same song. Riley's weakness for ham-fisted sloganeering can be problematic. But anyone who proposes "Laugh, love, fuck, and drink liquor" as a slogan for helping "the damn revolution come quicker," has as keen a sense of the pitches that'll appeal to the masses—especially the collegiate masses—as any overpaid advertising guru.