The Coup – Sorry to Bother You Review

What did we think of the political hip-hop group’s sixth full-length album?

ANTI-, 2012

5.8 / 10.0

It’s too late to get through to Boots Riley’s political hip-hop group, but if I had to give The Coup one piece of advice, it would be to ease up on the politics. Hip-hop is still trying to shake the stereotype of being an overbearing genre with little room for internal discussion, and The Coup aren’t helping matters with their lack of tact or subtlety. I don’t disagree with their politics, but I’d rather listen to an artist whose political views I don’t agree with state his case in an eloquent fashion rather than listen to an artist whose views I agree with perform a set of sloppy songs dedicated to advancing their political beliefs. I can’t say that I dislike political hip-hop, but at their best, The Coup are preaching to the choir.

The Coup don’t make it forty-five seconds into “The Magic Clap”, the opening song on their latest album, Sorry to Bother You, without referencing Martin Luther King, Jr., and his wife, Coretta, and they refer to the 14th Amendment as a sign of corruption before the song is done as well. These are ham-fisted lines, but what makes it worse is that Killer Mike already covered these topics and imagery earlier this year on his songs “Untitled” and “Reagan”. Mike, however, used these lines both in service of expressing his politics and for expanding on his paranoid persona. Here, The Coup give the same message on practically every song: we’re being kept down, history is full of violence, the government lies to us, we will rise up, etc. There’s a way to express these ideas in a digestible fashion, but stating them so plainly and without interesting or engaging context is not the way to go.

At least the backing band is having fun. The music that The Coup play can best be described as “if OutKast liked punk”, and I like that the early frantic tracks give way to measured pieces later in the album. This kind of music thrives on having an agreeable audience, though, and it is hard to get into the most enjoyable compositions on this album if you aren’t up for a whole lot of revolutionary rhetoric. That’s another problem that has plagued The Coup—for all of their bluster of shaking the system up, Sorry to Bother You doesn’t sound like a big album. Even though The Coup love to express their overbearing point of view, I can’t shake the feeling that these guys haven’t given the same courtesy to any other political hip-hop album released in the past five years. If they did, they would have realized just how silly they sound.

Purchase: The Coup – Sorry to Bother You

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