Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Coup: Party Music [75 Ark, 2001]
Imperfect musically (two slow ones) and politically (too anti-Amerikkkan). And right, this is the album with the withdrawn cover of Boots Riley detonating the WTC--a pun gone terribly wrong, tracks "blowing up," get it? Fortunately, most of the jokes are less doctrinaire--there are dozens better in "5 Million Ways to Kill a C.E.O." alone, like "We could let him change a flat tire/Or we could all at once retire." The title's a pun, too, signifying Black Panther or Communist (or necktie), only not only, because the tracks blow up: The live band, the male and female choruses, and DJ Pam the Funkstress do here commit a positive groove worthy of Frankie Beverly, Digital Underground, Chuck Brown. Similarly, the slogans-to-go that begin with the first verse--"Every death is an abrupt one/Every cop is a corrupt one/Without no cash up in a trust fund/Every cat with a gat wants to bust one/Every guest wants a plus-one"--are underpinned by songs wise beyond anybody's years, such as the woman-friendly tale of the girl who convinced a fumbling 17-year-old Boots that he'd fathered her child. Imperfect, definitely. But only because perfection is on the table. A