The Coup
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The Coup
The Coup
Origin Oakland, California, United States
Genres Hip hop
Labels Wild Pitch, EMI, Dogday, 75 Ark, Tommy Boy, Warner Bros., Epitaph, ANTI-
Street Sweeper Social Club, Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, E-40, Black Thought, Spice-1, Rage Against The Machine, Anti-Flag, Star Fucking Hipsters, Les Claypool, Galactic, Del the Funky Homosapien, Das Racist, Latoya London, Atari Teenage Riot, Killer Mike, Jolie Holland, Joe Henry, Japanther, Vernon Reid
Members Boots Riley
B'nai Rebelfront
Hassan Hurd
J.J. Jungle
L.J. Holoman
Latoya London
Pam the Funkstress (deceased)

The Coup is an American hip hop band from Oakland, California. Their music is an amalgamation of influences, including funk, punk, hip hop, and soul. Frontman Boots Riley's revolutionarily-charged lyrics rank The Coup as a renowned political hip hop band aligned to radical music groups such as The Clash, Dead Prez and Rage Against the Machine.

The Coup's music is driven by assertive and danceable bass-driven backbeats overlaid by critical, hopeful, and witty lyrics, often with a bent towards the literary. The Coup's songs critique, observe, and lampoon capitalism, American politics, patriarchal exploitation, police brutality, marijuana addiction, romance, working at fast food places, and disparities among race and class.


First decade

The Coup's debut album was 1991s The EP and almost all of the songs on it (except "Economics 101") were put on 1993's Kill My Landlord. In 1994, the group released its second album, Genocide & Juice. The group took a four-year recording hiatus to work as community activists before releasing Steal This Album to critical acclaim in 1998. The record's title pays tribute to 1960s radical Abbie Hoffman's yippie manifesto, Steal this Book. Steal This Album featured the stand-out single, "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night." The online magazine Dusted called Steal This Album "the best hip-hop album of the 1990s".[1]

Party Music and post-9/11 aftermath

In 2001, The Coup released Party Music to widespread praise. However, in part because of distribution problems, sales of the album were low. The original album cover art depicted group members Pam the Funkstress and Riley standing in front of the twin towers of the World Trade Center as they are destroyed by huge explosions, and Riley is pushing the button on a guitar tuner. The cover art was finished in June 2001 and the album was scheduled to be released in mid-September.[2] However, in response to the uncanny similarity of the artwork with the September 11, 2001, attacks, the album release was delayed until November of that year with the cover featuring a hand with a flaming martini glass.

The attention generated concerning the album's cover art precipitated some criticism of the group's lyrical content as well, particularly the Party Music track "5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO." The song's lyrics includes lines such as "You could throw a twenty in a vat of hot oil/When he jump in after it, watch him boil." Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin cited the song in calling the Coup's work a "stomach-turning example of anti-Americanism disguised as highbrow intellectual expression."[3]

On 15 November 2005, Tarus Jackson (AKA Terrance), who had joined the group as a promoter, was fatally shot during a robbery at his home in Oakland.[4]

2 December 2006 saw another tragedy for the Coup: About two hours following a performance at the San Diego House of Blues, the tour bus in which the group was riding drove off the road and flipped over before becoming engulfed in flames.[5] All passengers managed to climb out alive, although some were badly injured. The group did, however, lose all of its clothes, computers, cash, identification, house/car keys, cell phones, all of its instruments, and sound equipment. Since an insurance settlement was a long time coming, the group was forced to cancel the rest of its tour.

Recent activity

The group's songs "My Favorite Mutiny" and "Pork & Beef" were featured in the 2007 film, Superbad, with the former also being featured in the HBO miniseries 24/7 Flyers-Rangers, as well as in the video game NBA Live 07, while "Ride the Fence" was featured in EA's 2007 skateboarding video game Skate. The song "Captain Sterling's Little Problem" accompanied the closing credits of Sir, No, Sir, a documentary about the GI anti-war movement.[]

The Coup's sixth album, a concept album entitled Sorry to Bother You, was released on October 30, 2012, to wide acclaim.[6]

The album doubles as the soundtrack to an independent feature film of the same title, written by and starring Boots, which will be "a dark comedy with magical realism" and will draw inspiration from his time spent working as a telemarketer.[7]

The first track of Sorry to Bother You, "The Magic Clap", was leaked by the band themselves and posted below an article on August 13, 2012.[8] The film's screenplay was published by [[[McSweeney's]] in 2014.[9]

Band members

Boots Riley

" I think that people should have democratic control over the profits that they produce. It is not real democracy until you have that. And the plain and simple definition of communism is the people having democratic control over the profits that they create."
--Boots Riley

Among other things, Boots Riley is known for charismatic, and seemingly inexhaustibly energetic, punk-like stage presence.[10]

In 1991, he and other artists founded the Mau Mau Rhythm Collective, a group set up to use the power of hip hop music to publicize other efforts and movements. The next year, Riley founded The Coup.

In July 2002, Riley was a guest on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect and repeatedly referred to himself as a communist. Maher criticized him by saying that communists don't sell records.[11]

Riley was charged with abusive language for allegedly using profanity on stage while performing with the band Galactic in Downtown Norfolk, Virginia, in the city's annual Bayou Boogaloo Festival at Town Point Park in June 2008. This was a result of controversy that started a few weeks prior in the same park when, at a different festival, singer Ray-J used language some found offensive. Riley's charge only carried a small fine. However, the American Civil Liberties Union decided to help him fight it on free speech grounds before the charge was ultimately dismissed by the city shortly thereafter.[12]

During Tom Morello's Fall 2008 tour as the Nightwatchman, Riley appeared on selected dates, and the two debuted a song from an upcoming project called Street Sweeper Social Club. In March 2009, a Web site appeared at the url, which debuted its first single "Fight! Smash! Win!" It was also announced that the band would be the opening act on the upcoming tour[13] with Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction.

Boots Riley is also an active political/social organizer and speaker. He has been known to work with and, among other groups.


Silk-E is a vocalist with The Coup, performing in-studio and on stage. She joined The Coup in 2003, during promotion of the Party Music album. Known for her wild, engaging performance antics, energetic dancing, and her soulful, gravelly voice.[14][15][16] Pitchfork said she "sings and struts like Tina Turner raised on hip-hop[17] Part of her prowess is due to the fact that she started her career as a rapper. She has a solo album in which she is mainly rapping, entitled "Urban Therapy".[18]

There was a single and video from the album, "Hard Times", which received some MTV airtime.[19]

Hassan Hurd

Hassan Hurd is the drummer for The Coup. Hassan grew up in the church and was first known as a gospel drummer. He is known for the unshakable lock on his groove, explosive power and velocity, and crazy chops. At one point, he quit The Coup for a couple of years to pursue college football.[14][15][20]

JJ Jungle

JJ Jungle is the bassist for The Coup. He joined the group after bassist Dewey Tucker died. JJ Jungle is known for his energy, his never-failing lock into pocket, and his on stage acrobatics. JJ Jungle also has a band with Mike Dillon called "Mike Dillon's Go-Go Jungle".

Grego Simmons

Grego Simmons plays guitar for The Coup. He also plays with Goapele and Ursus Minor.[]

B'nai Rebelfront

B'nai Rebelfront plays guitar for The Coup. In the past, B'nai has played for R&B singer Tweet, and Tony! Toni! Toné![]

Pam the Funkstress

Pam the Funkstress (Pam Warren), DJ for The Coup, was a student of the late DJ Prince of Charm. In addition to DJing, she owned and operated a successful catering business in Northern California. Pam did not usually tour with The Coup. On December 22, 2017, Pam died at age 51, due to complications following organ transplant surgery.[21][22]


Eric Davis, known as E-roc, was part of The Coup as a rapper for the first 2 albums and then left the group in 1997 to become a longshoreman with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.[]

Lionel "LJ" Holoman

Lionel "LJ" Holoman is a keyboardist for The Coup. In the past, Holoman worked with 50 Cent, B-Legit, Joss Stone and many other well known artist.[]

Other works inspired by The Coup's music


  • The 2001 novel "Too Beautiful For Words", by Monique W. Morris, was based on The Coup's 1997 7-minute opus "Me And Jesus The Pimp In A '79 Grenada Last Night".[23] Morris kept the original storyline and main characters of the song as the setting for her work. Some of the dialogue in the book is directly from the song as well. The title of the novel is from the refrain of the bridge in The Coup's song. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Vijay Prashad's 2002 book, "Fat Cats and Running Dogs" starts with a quote from The Coup's "Fat Cats and Bigga Fish" as an obvious nod to the inspiration for the title of the book.[24]
  • The 2013 book "Party Music", by Rickey Vincent, was inspired by the concept of The Coup's 2001 album "Party Music" and discussions that the author had with Boots Riley about the subject. The book is a history of "The Lumpen", the Black Panther Party's funk band. Riley wrote the introduction to the book.[25][26][27]
  • "My Favorite Mutiny Zine" is a zine named after The Coup's song of the same name. It was based in Wyoming appears to have stopped printing in 2011 or 2012.[28]


  • The 1993 song "Practice Lookin' Hard", by E40, has a chorus and a concept built around the lyric "I got a mirror in my pocket and I practice lookin' hard", from The Coup's 1993 song "Not Yet Free". Boots Riley performs the vocal in the E40 song, and performs in the video alongside Tupac Shakur and E40.[29]
  • The 2013 song "Romantisch", by Jel of Anticon fame, has a chorus which is a vocal sample of Boots Riley from The Coup's 1994 song "The Name Game".[30]


The 1997 film "Money Talks" starring Chris Tucker, has exactly the same opening scene as the opening scene of The Coup's 1993 video for "Not Yet Free". In both, the protagonist is riding around in an expensive looking Mercedes-Benz, pulls up to the car wash to park and gets out. In both, it is at this time that we figure out that the protagonist merely works at the car wash. In both, the protagonist holds the keys out in front of the actual owner and feigns as if he's going to hit the owner.[31][32]




  • The EP (1991)
  • La Grande Boutique (2014)[33]

Compilation album appearances

  • Ill Crew Universal ICU: The Revival (1998)[34]
  • Various: No More Prisons (1999)[35]

Music videos

From Kill My Landlord

  • "Not Yet Free", directed by Kevin Bray
  • "Dig It", Directed by Robert Caruso[36]
  • "Funk (Remix)", Directed by Abraham Lim[37]

From Genocide And Juice

  • "Takin' These"[38]
  • "Fat Cats and Bigga Fish", Directed by Andrei Rozen[39]

From Steal This Album

  • "Me And Jesus The Pimp In A '79 Grenada Last Night", Directed by Boots Riley[40]

From Party Music

  • "Ride The Fence", Directed by Haik Hoisington[41]

From Pick A Bigger Weapon

  • "We Are The Ones", Directed by Vince Tocce[42]

From Sorry To Bother You

  • "The Magic Clap", Directed by Pete Lee[43]
  • "Land Of 7 Billion Dances", Directed by Yak Films[44]
  • "The Guillotine", Directed by Beau Patrick Coulon[45]
  • "Your Parents' Cocaine (Featuring Justin Sane from Anti-Flag)", Directed by Eat The Fish[46]
  • "The Magic Clap (Version 2, featuring Patton Oswalt)", Directed by Pete Lee[46]
  • "Long Island Iced Tea, Neat (featuring Japanther)", Directed by Kelly Gallagher[47]

Song uses in media


  1. ^ Hunt, Sam (2002-08-26). "Buy This Album". Dusted Magazine. Retrieved . 
  2. ^ "The Coup Cover Art". Retrieved . 
  3. ^ Malkin, Michelle (2001-12-28). "Stop giving America a bad rap". Jewish World Review. Retrieved . 
  4. ^ "Member of The Coup Killed in Robbery". 2005-11-16. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved . 
  5. ^ "The Coup survives bus crash; cancels tour dates!". 2006-12-04. Retrieved . 
  6. ^ "The Coup". ANTI. 2012-10-30. Retrieved . 
  7. ^ Michael Mechanic (2011-01-03). "Boots Riley Is Sorry to Bother You". Mother Jones. Retrieved . 
  8. ^ Hudson, Alex (2012-08-13). "The Coup Return with 'Sorry to Bother You', Get Killer Mike, Das Racist to Guest". Retrieved . 
  9. ^ Riley, Boots (2014). Sorry to Bother You. San Francisco: McSweeny's. 
  10. ^ "The Coup". Retrieved 2014. 
  11. ^ "Politically Incorrect - Boots Riley - part 2 of 2". YouTube. Retrieved . 
  12. ^ "Norfolk Drops Criminal Charges against Music Artist for On-stage Comments | American Civil Liberties Union". 2008-07-24. Retrieved . 
  13. ^ Tom Morello, Boots Riley's Street Sweeper to tour with Nine Inch Nails, March 6. 2009 Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  14. ^ a b "Show Recap". Retrieved 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "The Coup at Cabooze, 11/27/12". Gimme Noise. 28 November 2012. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 2014. 
  16. ^ "Afropunk - WESU 88.1 FM". Retrieved 2014. 
  17. ^ "Articles". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2014. 
  18. ^ "Urban Therapy - Silk-E - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014. 
  19. ^ "Silk E feat San Quinn - Hard times (1999)". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  20. ^ "Concert review: Oakland rapper Boots Riley leads a Coup at the Majestic Theatre". Retrieved 2014. 
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ "Report: Bay Area hip-hop star Pam the Funkstress, who was Prince's DJ, has died". 23 December 2017. Retrieved 2017. 
  23. ^ AlterNet / By Jeff Chang (2002-01-08). "The New Coup Debut". Alternet. Retrieved . 
  24. ^ Fat Cats & Running Dogs: The Enron Stage of Capitalism - Vijay Prashad - Google Boeken. Retrieved . 
  25. ^ Hildebrand, Lee (2013-10-23). "Rickey Vincent's Party Music: The KPFA DJ's new book chronicles how The Black Panther Party used funk to spread its revolutionary message". East Bay Express. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved . 
  26. ^ "RICKEY VINCENT, A Tribute "Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers' Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music" With Davey D, Blanche Richardson, James Mott and William Calhoun". KPFA 94.1 FM Berkeley. Archived from the original on 2014-01-27. Retrieved . 
  27. ^ Vincent, Rickey (2013). Party music: the inside story of the Black Panthers' band and how black power transformed soul music (First ed.). Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books. ISBN 9781613744925. 
  28. ^ "Welcome to Facebook - Log In, Sign Up or Learn More". Facebook. Retrieved 2014. 
  29. ^ "E-40 - Practice Lookin' Hard". YouTube. 2009-11-24. Retrieved . 
  30. ^ Ian S. Port (2013-09-04). "Unsettled: Jel and the Anticon Label Celebrate 15 Years of Weirdo Hip-Hop - Page 1 - Music - San Francisco". SF Weekly. Retrieved . 
  31. ^ "The Coup - Not Yet Free". YouTube. 2007-02-11. Retrieved . 
  32. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved . 
  33. ^ The Coup (October 20, 2013). "The Coup is recording an EP of new material on our days off in the France. It'll be named after the studio/venue that we're sleeping at: "La Grande Boutique"". Facebook. Retrieved 2013. 
  34. ^ "Ill Crew Universal - ICU: The Revival". Retrieved 2014. 
  35. ^ "". Archived from the original on 29 September 2014. Retrieved 2014. 
  36. ^ "The Coup - Dig It". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  37. ^ "The Coup - Funk". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  38. ^ "The Coup - Takin these". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  39. ^ "The Coup - Fat Cats and Bigga Fish". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  40. ^ "The Coup - Me & Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  41. ^ "The Coup - Ride The Fence". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  42. ^ "THE COUP - WE ARE THE ONES (Music Video by Vince Tocce)". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  43. ^ "The Coup - "The Magic Clap"". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  44. ^ "THE COUP "Land Of 7 Billion Dances" Hip Hop Oakland - YAK FILMS". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  45. ^ "The Coup - "The Guillotine"". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  46. ^ a b "The Coup - "Your Parents' Cocaine (w/ Justin Sane from Anti-Flag)"". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 
  47. ^ "The Coup feat. Japanther- "Long Island Iced Tea, Neat" Official Music Video". YouTube. Retrieved 2014. 

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