Boots Riley, leader of Oakland-based agit-hip-hop muckrakers the Coup, is not a “political rapper.” He’s a rap politico, an Afro-sporting Marxist who’d probably be publishing dissertations on U.S. economic policy if he thought it would help his ideas reach the widest possible audience. Hip-hop is simply his communicative medium of choice. Coming together in 1992, Riley, DJ Pam the Funkstress and the since-departed E-Roc emerged in the era of the gangsta, swaggering with a similar streetwise confidence (and the same affection for thick, ’70s-style funk) but speaking with a deeper social conscience and toting a way bigger bookshelf. Picking up more from where Jello Biafra left off than Chuck D, Riley’s narrative, often satirical lyrics obsessed over the everyday conspiracies of capitalism, from bogus wage structures to asshole repo men. Too intelligent for mass consumption, the Coup has remained an underground phenomenon, a status counterproductive to their goals. But with each passing album — Pick a Bigger Weapon being the latest — they move ever closer to penetrating the mainstream. Pam and Riley storm into SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo on July 29.
SLO Brew, 1119 Garden St., San Luis Obispo, 543-1843