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Steal This Double Album

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Album Review

Steal This Double Album is the Coup's masterstroke, taking the advances of Genocide and Juice to the next level and coming up with one of the most underappreciated hip-hop albums of the '90s. Down to a duo, the Coup officially becomes a vehicle for Boots Riley's observations, which it mostly was already; still, there's a greater focus simply because of the fact that it's a product of one ambitious vision. Boots' impassioned political rhetoric is still in full-force, but the main strengths of Steal This Double Album are its fleshed-out characters and witty, detailed, image-rich storytelling that would do Slick Rick proud. Its intellectual and emotional depth come from Boots finding the humanity not only in his ideology, but in a much-maligned class of people articulating their frustrations and analyzing the world they live in from both the inside and the outside. His flair for the dramatic reaches its apex on the seven-minute saga "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night." It's a complex, cinematic story about a young man who loathes his father — an abusive pimp who eventually beats his mother to death — but can't help internalizing some of the same behavior. Equally touching is "Underdogs," a heartbreaking account of the everyday reality of poverty. Boots' ironic wit is all over the rest of the record. The dark-humored "Breathing Apparatus" finds a gunshot victim with no health insurance pleading with his friend not to let doctors pull the plug. Elsewhere, the Coup's "Repo Man," from their Genocide and Juice and Steal This Album LPs returns (in the person of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien) on "The Repo Man Sings for You"; and Boots acts out a gleefully provocative fantasy (on record, anyway) with "Piss on Your Grave," which concerns slave owner George Washington. The whole album is strikingly consistent, managing to be smart, funny, touching, and funky all at once; it's nothing short of brilliant. [Like the Coup's first two albums, Steal This Album went out of print rather quickly; it was later reissued as Steal This Double Album, Rovi


Formed: Oakland, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Coup were one of the most overtly political bands in rap history. Formed in the early '90s, the Coup were obviously influenced by the black power rhetoric of "conscious" rappers like Public Enemy and KRS-One, but they were perhaps even more inspired by a heavy-duty, leftist reading list that included Marx and Mao. Lead rapper/producer Boots (born Raymond Riley) was involved in political activism long before he was a musician. His fervent dedication to social change, from his work with the Young...
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