Photo Credit: Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns
Never Forget: The Coup were the First to Call Out Trump for Being a Piece of Shit
During a time where Donald Trump was almost universally beloved by rappers, The Coup, a radicalized hip-hop collective from The Bay, were the only ones to call him out on his bullshit
In Devil’s Bargain, a book about the relationship between Trump and exiled white supremacist Stephen Bannon, author Joshua Green wrote about Trump's popularity within black circles. According to the book, In 2010, just one year before he would unofficially start his 2016 presidential campaign by claiming President Barack Obamawasn't a citizen, Trump’s positive Q score with black people was 27. His score amongst non-blacks? Eight.
His TV show, The Apprentice, regularly pulled in a healthy black viewership. In an interview with Business Insider, Green talked about how Fortune 500 companies wanted to advertise with The Apprentice "because they wanted to be associated with this positive, multicultural television show."
No portion of the black community embraced Trump quite like rappers. During the '90s, before hip-hop reached its commercial peak, Trump was a figure that represented power, wealth, and charm. But not too much charm. Trump always had a scrappiness to him; he was an unrefined Queens kid who was never truly accepted in certain Manhattanite circles.
And this is why, although Trump was rich his whole life, he didn't really know how to be rich. He often operated like a lottery winner. He was known for decorating his mansions with garish gold and diamonds and eating and drinking garbage like Big Macs and Diet Coke. This sort of high end, low brow contradiction is basically the story of your favorite '90s rapper.
Which might be the reason why so many rappers saw Trump as the American dream, a representation of what being rich should be.
Raekwon called himself the "black Trump." Scarface once rapped he was"stacking paper like Trump." Redman bragged about being "well known like Trump." Nelly asked The Donald to let him in (presumably into some sort of "He Man Women Haters Club" for the one percent.) Shyne, on many occasions, boasted about how much time he spent in the Trump Towers. "What type of nigga stay in the Trump for weeks?" Shyne, apparently.
But when it is all said and done, and the nuclear war is over, let the record show that there was one act that always had it right about Trump, who, from day one, knew that Trump wasn't someone you should strive to be like: The Coup.
In their earliest iteration, The Coup was made up of Boots Riley, E-roc and the late Pam the Funkstress. Although The Coup had a rapt following in The Bay, and respect amongst their peers, the group never sniffed mainstream success, remaining indie for the entirety of their career. Not the most lucrative decision to make in the 1990s. In fact, E-roc would eventually leave the group to become a longshoreman.
Throughout the last two decades, The Coup recorded some of the most revolutionary conscious rap ever put down on wax. Riley was a communist. And his songs were often tales about regular folks — from waiters to drug dealers to sex workers— trying to get by in a rotten capitalistic system.
The enemies were always the people with power. So "yuge" winners like Trump weren't considered in Riley's version of the American dream.
They were the enemy.
In 2016, FiveThirtyEight did a round up of Trump's history with hip-hop. Before he announced his candidacy there were only two negative statements said about Trump on wax. Both comments came from The Coup.
On Kill My Landlord, the group's debut album, Boots rapped:
So break yourself Bush, it's collection day
Break yourself Trump, it's collection day
Break yourself DuPont, it's collection day
In the track, Boots sees Trump as any other rich person with power, lumping The Donald with power names like Bush and DuPont.
However, by the time the 1994 classic Genocide & Juice is released Boots' criticisms are more sophisticated.
One of the standout tracks from that album is “Pimps (Free Stylin at the Fortune 500 Club).” On the song Boots and E rapped from the perspective of three of New York City’s most iconic rich figures: David Rockefeller, Jean Paul Getty, and Donald Trump.
The figures participate in a freestyle battle. Rockefeller and Getty both brag about all the ways they are exploiting people. At one point Getty says: "I'm getting rich off petroleum wars, controlling you whores, making you eat Top Ramen."
And then the final verse is Trump. It's clear Rockefeller and Getty don't want him around. Rockefeller says "Oh no here he comes; Getty responds: "don't look at him." But Trump comes anyway. And uses his verse to spit not about his wealth or power, but about the cash he has:
And Trump Trump check out the cash in my trunk
Trump Trump check out the cash in my trunk.
At a time where most rappers looked at Trump in a glowing light, The Coup captured what Trump's contemporaries saw then and what we see now: an unsophisticated dunce.
After more than 20 years in the game, Boots Riley has become a hot commodity. He has the breakout smash movie of 2017 with Sorry to Bother You, a film he wrote and directed. Many critics have called this the perfect movie for the Trump era. However, Boots has been quick to remind people that he wrote the script for Sorry to Bother You during the Obama years.
It's almost as if he said everything he had to say about Trump years ago.