Pick a Bigger Weapon
Like millennial Christians, militant revolutionaries can obsess so zealously over how yummy tomorrow's utopian omelet will taste that they overlook the fact that the masses can hardly subsist on the smashed eggshells piling up all around. But Boots Riley's aesthetic has never been ascetic. The be-fro'ed Marxist MC called the Coup's 2001 album Party Music for a reason, and if anything, he's come to more explicitly count pleasure among his principles since. "I'm here to laugh, love, fuck, and drink liquor/And help the damn revolution come quicker," he announces in a flow as singsong as the keyboard squiggling underneath, his cadence lodging itself slyly between taunt and chuckle.
Full-bodied radicals that they are, Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress dodge the traditionally prickly sound of "meaningful rap," be it the skronk-funk of Public Enemy or conscious backpackers' austere boom-bap. Granted, Riley's reconstituted P-Funk is the groove of a man as nostalgic for days of activism past as any acoustic coffeehouse radical. But with alums of the Gap Band, Maze, Tony! Toni! Tone!, and, yes, P-Funk grinding out those beats in-studio, his bottom's livelier and more limber than Dre's ever was, taking in everything from Stevie-styled harmonica and synth burble to Tom Morello's best Santana imitations to Pam's spry turntablism.
Didactic but never dull, Riley makes the pro-shoplifting anthem "I Love Boosters!" double as a lesson in ghetto economics, while "Head (Of State)" is a veritable People's History of the Middle East ("Bush and Hussein together in bed/Giving h-e-a-d head") that'll come in handy when Counterpunch finally gets its update of Schoolhouse Rock into production. On the sultry protest fuck "IJustWanna LayAroundAllDayInBedWithYou," Boots pauses between orgasms to offer a cogent macroeconomic justification for ditching work—and all without missing a lick, stroke, or fondle. As for the revolution he anticipates—well, he's kinda vague on specifics. But "BabyLet'sHaveABabyBeforeBushDoSomethin'Crazy," gasped in sensuous desperation by guest singer Silk-E, is the work of a man who's got his priorities straight.