This one should have been posted before Back Up Off Me!, but sometimes keeping this chronological shit in order is a task in itself. Anywhoo…hope you enjoy the read.
The first and last time we spoke about The Coup on this blog was five years ago when we discussed their 1993 debut album, Kill My Landlord (by the way, I absolutely love that album title). Led by Boots Riley (and his afro) with E-Roc and DJ Pam The Funkstress (rip) at his sides, the Oakland based trio took a militant stance and offered up a heapin’ helpin’ of black consciousness served over funky instrumentals. Kill My Landlord didn’t sell a ton of copies, nor was it deemed a critical darling, but it was a decent listen, and it was encouraging to hear a group stand strong on something they believed in, going again the thug/gangsta/materialistic grain. The Coup would return in ’94 with their cleverly titled sophomore effort, Genocide & Juice.
Like Kill My Landlord, the bulk of Genocide & Juice would be produced by Boots with help from a bunch of his musician friends providing live instrumentation. Like their debut, Genocide & Juice wouldn’t be a commercial success either and it received mix reviews from the critics. It’s been years since I’ve listened to the album, so let’s see if time has been kind to Genocide & Juice.
Intro – The album opens with someone named G-Nut sharing a few words to introduce the listeners to Genocide & Juice over a funky instrumental built around a dope Patrice Rushen loop.
Fat Cats, Bigga Fish – This was the lead single from Genocide & Juice. Boots goes dolo and comes from the perspective of a petty street hustler who ends up being humbled when he discovers that he’s a small fish amongst larger fish in the scandalous pond of hustlers. Boots does a brilliant job of dotting every “I” and crossing every “T” during his damn near flawlessly executed storyline, and the infectious funk groove that backs him sounds just as good. This is a super slept on/underappreciated record, and easily my favorite Coup joint.
Pimps – This one picks up at the snobby party that Boots was working/scheming at on the previous song. It begins with a pompous white woman talking with David Rockefeller and JP Getty, and she eventually goads them into spittin’ freestyles (the dialogue between them is hi-larious). Boots raps as Rockefeller and E-Roc as Getty, as the two billionaires take turns boasting about the power and clout that inheritance and capitalisms has brought them. Donald Trump jumps into this Fortune 500 cipher, tacking on the final verse that he spits in reggae form, and it sounds just as bad as his comb over looks. I have to give this one to Rockefeller.
Takin’ These – The previous song ends with the bougie party getting raided and robbed, which sets up Boots and E-Roc for this one; and they’re not asking for reparations, but taking it by force: “I’m gettin’ ammunition out the Pinto hatchback, refer to this as “Operation Snatchback”, because I got the fat sacks, hollow tips to distribute equally, So who’s the niggas, thugs and pimps you mention frequently? Gank me with frequency, now I know you got mail, and if my glock fails, take a sip of this Molotov cocktail”. Boots and E-Roc’s militant bars sound great over this milky smooth backdrop.
Hip 2 Tha Skeme – Boots and E-Roc use this one to address the systematic economic gap that still exist in America between the have (aka white folks) and the have-nots (aka black folks). This is definitely not one of the strongest songs on the album, but it’s still decent.
Gunsmoke – The rock guitar-driven backdrop has Boots and E-Roc on some vengeful shit, looking to get even with their oppressors who’ve tormented their ancestors for centuries. I appreciate the sentiment, but I could have done without this one.
This One’s A Girl – Pam The Funkstress gets a chance to chop shit up on the one’s and two for this short interlude. Well done, ma’am.
The Name Game – Our hosts use this one to make it clear that their goal in this hip-hop game is not to gain fortunate and fame, but to make revolutionary music that sparks change and uplifts the people: “Fuck the fame, fuck the game, fuck the riches foo, I ain’t got shit unless all my folks gon’ have theirs too”. I respect The Coup’s stance and I love the laidback funk instrumentation on this one (especially the melodic jam session at the end of the song).
360 Degrees – The Coup brings back the funky instrumental from the intro and invites Jazz Lee Alston to share a spoken word poem about a young man she simple refers to as Baby Boy (not to be confused with Tyrese’s character, Jody). I’m curious to why Jazz’ name is crossed out of the credits in the liner notes. Maybe her appearance conflicted with her contract with Rhyme Cartel Records (which the liner notes say she appears “courtesy of”)? Regardless, I enjoyed Jazz’ clever wordplay and her poem was pretty solid.
Hard Concrete – E-Roc uses his solo joint to share a cautionary tale about a young brother coming up in the hood who gets caught in the traps and snares that society has laid before him. E doesn’t cover any new territory here, but the laidback instrumental was dope and makes for great midnight marauding music.
Santa Rita Weekend – Boots and E-Roc are joined by their Oakland bredrin, Spice 1 and E-40, as they all get a chance to paint the picture of life behind bars and address the ridiculous amount of black men caught up in the criminal system, as Boots raps: “I can’t go forward, and motherfuckas can’t ignore it, cause all my people on parole, in the pen or gotta warrant”. Boots and his band of musicians provide a dope bluesy mash up (with a disgusting bass line) that sets the mood for the somber content. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album.
Repo Man – The Coup dedicates this one to anyone that has ever had a home, car or furniture repossessed (I’m super curious on how furniture gets repoed. I wish someone would try to come in my house and take my shit), and it serves as a reminder of the dangers of borrowing and the power in ownership. Unfortunately, the message gets tainted by the mediocre music and the annoying hook.
Interrogation – The Coup invites a few of their friends (Osagyefo and the group, Point Blank Range) to join them on this one, as they all vow to uphold one of the oldest tenets of street code: never talk to or cooperate with the police (Boots hilariously, goes as far as to say he won’t even “ask them for directions”). Things get kind of weird during the middle section of the song, when one (or two) of their guests (I’m not sure who is who) decides to get into some Broadway type theatrics (someone raps from the perspective of a cop and adapts a British accent, delivered in a Yoda voice, and interrogates a possible witness, who sounds like he’s performing in Othello). I wasn’t crazy about this one, but it’s passable.
Outro – For your listening pleasure, The Coup brings back the instrumental from the “Intro” and “360 Degrees”, but this time they put some extra stank on it in the form of live instrumentation. And that concludes Genocide & Juice.
The Coup picks up where they left off at on their first album, brewing up another healthy portion of militant black conscious content, wasting not a moment on selfish boasts or random nonsense (you catch that bar? I still got it!). There are a few moments when the message gets lost in the music and vice versa, but most of Genocide & Juice finds Boots and E-Roc spewing quality substance-filled bars over dope beats and funky instrumentation. Genocide & Juice will never be mentioned in the same conversation as politically conscious masterpieces like It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back and Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, but it serves as the perfect appetizer to prepare your “thought chops” for the main courses.