I went to the Fillmore the other night to hear Lyrics Born and The Coup. Now this is not a concert I would have known about were it not for my son who has turned me on to a lot of hip hop that I otherwise would never have checked out. I was one of those old fogeys like: (cue old fogey voice) “back in my day the rap had substance. Now Public Enemy – there was some good rap.” I had kind of given up on rap until Mac introduced me to people like Blackalicious, Paul Barman and the above mentioned artists.
So first, The Coup: Boots Riley and Pam the Funkstress, backed up by a funky band and a singer named Silky ( I think) who sounded an awful lot like early Tina Turner ( who I love). Boots is a suave and debonair front man with a laid back style and sprite-like dance moves that belie the intensity of his lyrical rage. ( Raps include: 5 million ways to kill a CEO) Boots is comical in some of his songs and powerfully persuasive in others. Here are a few lines from one incendiary rap:
We are born from the mildew, the rust, the heathenous lust
The dreams in the dust, the evidence flushed
The grieving is just, they're thieving from us…
We like free speech but we love free cable
We're taught from the cradle the Bill Gates fable
Which leads to high speeds in Buick LeSables
We have no excuses just great alibis
And poker faces you can't analyze
Such a wonderful answer to people who think rap has no substance. My only criticism of the evening was that Boots’ mic was not as hot in the mix as Lyrics Born’s mic. As a result it was hard to hear him and the only songs I could fully appreciate were the ones I had familiarized myself with thanks to my rapper of a fourteen year old ( I know, I know, I’m too gorgeous to have a fourteen year old son. It’s a blessing and a curse to be this cute, smart and funny:=)
Lyrics Born is just plain fun. He’s an outstanding rapper with a technical facility that boggles the mind. As an acting teacher getting students to do tongue twisters like “ a proper cup of coffee in a proper copper coffee pot” I was in awe of his verbal agility. I also love the showmanship and the delight they all displayed in being on stage. Lyrics Born had a bass player who while he did not have the technical facility of many of the bass players I’ve played with ( some of whom are friends on this site) was perhaps the best showman I’ve ever seen. He was a delight to watch from his antics to the persona he crafted. I’d go watch him alone.
It irks me, yes it does, that the record companies have sold us this notion of what hip hop is. They’ve allowed the lowest common denominator to ascend to great heights, further impoverishing our culture and giving the average person a very skewered idea of what rap is. How many great jazz, pop, funk, rap, etc artists are out there doing there thing in smaller venues while people with a fraction of their talent are struggling along.
The only thing to be done is boycott the major record labels, buy from independent sources ( or download as the case may be) support independent clubs (sadly, the Fillmore now belongs to Clear Channel) and read books from independent bookstores. Go to little theaters and take a sledge hammer to your tv.
I know you’re all tuning me out now….those of you reading this….if anyone reads anymore…..hello? Anyone out there?