The Coup are my go-to answer when I get confronted by the occasional "So what music would you recommend?" They're almost criminally underknown, especially given just how joyous and appealing The Coup's music can be.
Of course, I'm being a little bit deceptive, as there's an elephant in the room, or a cat in the bag, or something that needs to be pointed out or set free: The Coup are commies. Pinkos. Marxists. Socialists. Revolutionaries. Anti-American scum. Etc. Of course, if every musician was judged on their politics, music would be a pretty pathetic entertainment form.
However, The Coup aren't simply reading "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon" over some generic beats. That would be terrible. They take their radical politics and wrap them in a delicious mix of danceable funk and impeccable comedic timing to make it all go down easier. Even non-revolutionaries could find "Laugh, Love, F*ck" charming, with a chorus that goes "I'm hear to laugh, love, f*ck and drink liquor/maye make the revolution come quicker."
Along those lines, even though they were chastised by Bill O'Reilly for being anti-corporate, "5 Million Ways To Kill A CEO" never became a huge hit. After the economic collapse and pass of the TARP bailout to the banks that destroyed our economy, maybe they should have rereleased it as a single.
Political anger always goes down better with humor, and the faux-rich-white voices in "Pimps (Freestylin' at the Fortune 500 Club)" are just the start of a catchy-as-hell hip-hop satire.
It's not all catchy comedy songs, but also some deeper, more affecting songs. "Wear Clean Draws," a father's advice to his daughter. It manages to be funny, deep, feminist, and most of all, sweet.
The feminist trends in The Coup's music are part of what separate them from most of the other "socially conscious" rappers. The have one of the few female DJs, Pam the Funktress, and in a world filled with misogynist male rappers, The Coup's Boots Riley stands out for his respectful, loving lyrics.
Perhaps the closest song they've had to a hit was "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night," a long, slow increasingly personal and intense tale of a young man coming to terms with his parents, a whore and pimp. When critics complain about how rap music doesn't properly tell the tale of tragedy on the streets, well, they haven't listened to this song.
The Coup are not especially prolific: they've released just five albums in almost twenty years. But when they do, they make them count. The first album is a little rough by later standards, but any of the next four - Genocide and Juice, Steal This Album, Party Music, or Pick a Bigger Weapon should serve as an excellent gateway.