It's strange to think that due to an incomprehensible coincidence, this record almost wasn't released at all. As you may have heard, Party Music
's original artwork featured group members Boots Riley and Pam the Funkstress blowing up the World Trade Center -- and due to the band's virulent political views, it wasn't completely ridiculous to suggest that they might have had something to do with the attacks. Mercifully, the proverbial smoke cleared, cooler heads prevailed, new album art was commissioned and Party Music
was finally granted a proper release.
Ironic as it may sound, and exactly as its title suggests, Party Music is indeed the hip-hop party album of the year -- filled with thumping beats, shout-along choruses and Boots Riley's venomously precise barbed tongue. While they are currently dodging the "new Public Enemy" tag the press has given them, Boots and Pam have enough good sense to realize that a low-down, ass-shaking beat says just as much as a clever lyric ever could -- and that's the aesthetic behind Party Music.
Songs like "Ghetto Manifesto", with its humorous quip, "I write my lyrics on parking tickets and summons to the court", and album opener "Everythang", are more about getting the party started than starting a revolution. Elsewhere, as with the fist-pumping "5 Million Ways to Kill a C.E.O." and the fiery "Get Up", The Funkstress' production is akin to that of Outkast's Organized Noize crew -- organic beats and double-time rhymes colliding with intergalactic synth runs and P-Funk-inspired swirls of psychedelic sound. In a hip-hop world ruled by clichéd production and watered-down beats, a sound so simultaneously funky and strange is, to say the least, a welcome change.
As you bob and weave your way through Party Music, it quickly becomes evident that this is truly a band of equals. Boots plays the lyrical ying to The Funkstress' beat-happy yang -- relying on one another for instruction, guidance and inspiration. "Pork and Beef" finds Riley leapfrogging his tongue-twisting rhymes over Pam's jubilant thump, while the low-slung pseudo-ballad "Wear Clean Drawers" reveals the soft underbelly of this polit-hop beast. It is this sense of teamwork, and of a shared musical vision, that lifts Party Music head and shoulders above the majority of The Coup's hip-hop peers.
Say what you will about their unorthodox methodology and their skewed world-view, but there's simply no denying that Party Music will secure Boots and Pam's place in the pantheon of hip-hop for years to come -- as long as people forget about that first album cover.