The Coup Bring Fierce Beats And Energy to Lower Sproul

Photo: UPRISING. Oakland-based hip-hop band the Coup, led by Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress, played a two-hour on-campus show last Thursday.
Michael Restrepo/Photo
UPRISING. Oakland-based hip-hop band the Coup, led by Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress, played a two-hour on-campus show last Thursday.

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Correction Appended

Oakland-based band the Coup set a fiercely energetic scene during their Thursday concert. A diverse bunch of kids slowly amalgamated on Lower Sproul, singularly drawn by cavity-shaking beats and politically charged lyrics that cut through the masses.

So what if the Coup has never gone gold or platinum? They've got some serious urban savvy, translating to serious messages that drive through tough press and controversy to call attention to jagged shards of our current socio-economic conditions. All of this is achieved with low-key panache. No props, no smoke and mirrors. Just the show opening with master of ceremonies Boots Riley grooving across the stage with hipper-than-thou vibes, sporting a gold shirt, jeans and fiercely sharp sideburns. Eventually he edged into a personable warmth that inspired some to dish out super sweet break-dancing moves on a sheet of linoleum duct-taped to the middle of the plaza. The rest of the audience was hypnotized into united head-bobbing. When Riley shouted, "Get your hands up!" you did it, and when he whispered, you leaned in to listen.

Boots Riley is an artist, both musically and as a sculptor of culture with the belief that we can change problematic institutions if we take command of defining our own culture. Riley effectively establishes an agenda to unapologetically act and react. Riley provokes one into extreme independence on "My Favorite Mutiny," when he commands, "Never let they punk ass ever defeat you" and "Ride the Fence" encourages one to "take a look, be in support or opposition then be proactive proceed with confidence." However, he's not all about putting up harsh defensive guards. In "I Just Wanna Lay Around All Day In Bed With You," Riley shows his a soft side. He tempts us to surrender to a more intimate framework, saying, "We communicate with mouths, fingers, and hands." While revealing sentimental notes, he stays true to his music's political commentary, sweet-talking his lover with the fond analogy, "…We be in bed together like George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein!"

The Coup understands that not every song will appeal to everyone; for the most part they depend on tapping into very specific fan bases. Its strong themes appeal to the politically active, socially conscious, or rap fans who can't stand women-bashing. However, the audience is definitely broadened by their distinctive sound, a brilliant blend of funk and rap. And if this doesn't do it for you, tune into featured crooner Silk E. This woman exudes sheer power, and her gutsy vocals fly in a sizzling rasp. Her solo time was limited for this performance, but her rich melodies working in conjunction with the rest of the Coup definitely rounded out the concert experience. She's the kind of diva worthy of near worship, with her killer talent and down-to-earth confidence.

Beyond the music, the concert was about compassion and change, which Riley exhibits with supreme empathy. After a student activist attempted to commandeer the stage to relay info about an upcoming protest and was promptly kicked off by the authorities, Boots Riley communicated the message for him. After the rest of the band began to pack up, Riley recited a rap at the audience's request. For a solid hour, lower Sproul was enshrouded in a musical haze of humanity. Once diffused, the haze gave way to a sense of reality sharpened by the Coup's intensity of being and challenge to the institution.

Correction: Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The caption for the photo with this article may imply that DJ Pam the Funkstress performed on campus. In fact, DJ Pam did not perform at the show.

The Daily Californian regrets the error.

Stick it to The Man with Sara at [email protected]

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