By KC (Host of You Must Learn)
Let’s get the obvious out of the way…I did not *get* this album when I first heard it.
The Coup’s Genocide & Juice. I liked it. I listened to it quite a bit. But did I fully understand it? Absolutely not. In 1994, I was still learning about things like systemic racism and intentional economic suppression (in fact, in 2023, I’m still learning). So, lyrically a lot of things went over my head, sort of like a Dennis Miller comedy album. But, similar to the references in the Miller routines, as I’ve gotten older and exposed to more, I understand more of the brilliance of this record.
Musically, it’s always been there. The funk, baby, Coming out in the thick of G-Funk, but not quite emulating it. From the Bay like Too $hort, but not really sounding like him either. West Coast Roots? That’s closer to accurate. The backing instrumental compositions just groove and glide, but don’t get in the way of listening to the impact of the words. Boots Riley and E-Roc paint some vivid pictures – in fact, you can easily see the backbone of storytelling Riley uses today in his filmmaking. The lead track, “Fat Cats, Bigga Fish” is an all-timer in the world of storytelling rap. “Hip 2 The Skeme” has an air of disappointment and frustration at Riley’s and other Black leaders’ inability to truly mobilize their community to stand against the injustices done to them on a daily basis. And “Repo Man” takes aim at the predatory loan practices designed to inflict continuous economic harm on the Black community, a theme that would continue into the next album.
It’s a group, but Boots is clearly the star. E-Roc would eventually leave the group, and The Coup would continue as a duo for a few more years. Recently, the world lost Pam the Funkstress, and in her celebration and remembrance, a lot more people were introduced (or re-introduced) to her amazing talents as well. Did The Coup get outshadowed by Outkast and Goodie Mob? Perhaps. Did they suffer for being on the sometimes-competent-sometimes-not Wild Pitch label? Almost assuredly.
Next year, this album turns 30. Start listening now to get a jump on all the thinkpieces that will be giving The Coup their flowers retroactively.
Enjoy this post while listening to Ep 017 of You Must Learn. Press Play!