Time To Change The Focus From The Richest To The Brokest

The beats flow with thick, sweetened funk, as opposed to the same old pimp beats that Too Short employs, or the gangsta formulas that reality rappers indulge in.

With so many rappers trying to invent virtual realities,

it's almost a revelation to find a group that's trying to

reflect one instead. The Coup -- Boots and DJ Pam the Funkstress -- have spent their career talking about the tragedies and triumphs of everyday existence. With their first two albums -- Kill My Landlord ('93) and Genocide and Juice ('95) -- they proved to be talented, funkalicious, and rocking a politics so insightful that it intimidated the heads who weren't ready for it.

While they've been tagged "political rappers" in the past, the Coup are more than just rhetorical revolutionaries spouting empty theoretical

polemics about the upliftment of the mythical people. Instead, the group

represents the bleak, post-industrial streets of Oakland, Calif., the

streets they grew up on. Rather than try to "keep it real" with

overwrought stories of thugs, playas and hustlers, they talk about

another sector of the disenfranchised black community, the working

class.

"Car & Shoes" is a funny, sad song about how most black youths in

ghettos don't roll around in Lexus SUVs and drop-top Bentleys but

instead suffer an endless stream of lemons and hoopties like Boots' "'84

Datsun/ with the alternator riding shotgun." The deeply moving,

gospel-derived "Underdogs" talks about people who struggle with poverty,

unemployment, bad credit and a flawed justice system. On this song the

beats flow with thick, sweetened funk, as opposed to the same old pimp

beats that Too Short employs, or the gangsta formulas that

reality rappers indulge in.

The Coup's album is easily one of the best of the year. It will provoke

you, move you and force you to consider another, less glamorous side of

hip-hop culture, a side in which people do not choose to kill, shoot up

or become materialists.