The Coup | Pitbull, Paul Wall

This week's big hip-hop shows couldn't be more different, which is no reason for you to avoid catching both. Boots Riley, main man of Oakland's the Coup, is hip-hop's pre-eminent Communist; he raps about putting power in the people's hands but doesn't gloss over the specifics like so many backpack rappers. On Pick a Bigger Weapon, the outfit's first album since 2001's Party Music (and its first for SoCal punk label Epitaph), Riley examines the sexy side of revolution, which needs more examining than you'd think. Pitbull, a Cuban-American MC from Miami, makes another kind of party music, a hectic swirl of beats and noise fueled by testosterone and booze. In his best stuff--such as "Shake," his hit collaboration with Ying Yang Twins--the rapper sounds like he's imagining the end of the world that Riley says we're hurtling toward. Pitbull's opener, Houston-based auto enthusiast Paul Wall, owns the shiniest grill in hip-hop.
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Mikael Wood