Artist: The CoupTitle: Pick A Bigger WeaponRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Michael Pollock
Like walking into a party drunk and pissing on the coats, Pick a Bigger Weapon (Epitaph), The Coups fifth album, is no less unpredictable and vitriolic than anything theyve done before. MC Boots Riley is still in Richard Pryor-sharing-an-apartment-with-George Clinton-mode, still getting all socially conscious over scoops of Bay Area superfunk and still coming up with song titles both hilariously appropriate (Baby Lets Have a Baby Before Bush Do Somethin Crazy) and nauseatingly bizarre (Ass-Breath Killers).
All the same rules apply on Pick a Bigger Weapon, but with a renewed emphasis on musicality. No strangers to P-Funk sonics, The Coup up the ante by incorporating a premier live band structure that features ex-Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, Tony Toni Tones DWayne Wiggins and members of The Gap Band and Maze. I Jus Wanna Lay Around All Day in Bed with You starts off a Prince serenade and ends up a House of Music outtake, complete with unexpected string section. Closer The Stand takes a DJ Quik-inspired groove-lots of keys and electric guitar-and touches on jazz before the tracks end. ShoYoAss is a disco throwback with intellect, and We Are the Ones is on some Sugar Hill sh*t, at least for the British-accented raps. Meanwhile, gangsterish moments like Get That Monkey Off Your Back and I Love Boosters! couldve snuck onto an old E-40 album.
Lead single My Favorite Mutiny is the records most political-sounding contribution. Here Boots is flanked by Black Thought and Talib Kweli while a soul power piano-stomp carves out a road to revolution. Thought throws haymakers (Sick of hearin somethin wrong with me/Mothafucka, somethin wrong with you), but its Boots that steals the show: I aint just finna rap on a track/Im finna clap on em back/Aint its been stackin to that/500 years before Iceberg ever leaned back in a lac/Before they told Rosa /Black in the back. Confident and inviting, its the kind of song all three of these dudes have been trying to make for years.
The real talk, though, might be MindFuck (A New Equation). Its a gurgling of bass and echo-drumbeats rolled over vivid theorizing-the Maggot Brain/Fear of a Black Planet/Stankonia variable. That said, its a clear hint at where The Coup belong: snug between three generations of impossible funk, looking back only long enough to realize youre still far behind.