Pick A Bigger Weapon

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 Coup’s fifth album, is no less unpredictable and vitriolic than anything they’ve 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 Let’s 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 Tone’s D’Wayne 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 track’s 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!” could’ve snuck onto an old E-40 album.

Lead single “My Favorite Mutiny” is the record’s 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 it’s Boots that steals the show: “I ain’t just finna rap on a track/I’m finna clap on ‘em back/Ain’t it’s 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, it’s 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).” It’s a gurgling of bass and echo-drumbeats rolled over vivid theorizing-the Maggot Brain/Fear of a Black Planet/Stankonia variable. That said, it’s a clear hint at where The Coup belong: snug between three generations of impossible funk, looking back only long enough to realize you’re still far behind.