Let's get a few things out of the way right from the get-go.
(1) "Uh, PUNKnews.org, duh!!!!!!!!!!!!"
This is not a punk album, this is not anything close to a punk album, this is a rap and funk album.
Mind blown yet? For those of you who don't reside in the closed-minded contingent I was poking fun at, there's a lot on the Coup's Pick a Bigger Weapon to like. Guided by MC Boots Riley, this assembly of musicians includes Tom Morello, Dwayne Wiggins, and members of seminal funk band Parliament. There's also some great guest spots from such talented MCs as Black Thought of the Roots, and the ever-talented Talib Kweli, both of whom collaborate on "My Favorite Mutiny." Both men show both a great ability to flow, and a social conscience as well, demonstrated by the intelligent and articulate way they deliver their words. With such sharp lines as "Send 'em out into the world, go to war in a fluke, Eye to eye with the enemy you sworn to shoot" coming from Black Thought and "But beats got it twisted, I'll untangle it, black mind is entwined like the ropes they used to hang us with" coming from Kweli, it's more than apparent that all rappers involved in this project can hold their weight with intelligent delivery.
Not everything has to be steeped in social conscience, though; the Coup are just as well versed in smooth beats and funk as anything. Ultimately, politics aside, this could double as a terrific party album. The slow, funky groove of "Ijuswannalayaroundalldayinbedwithyou" offers a stark, but welcome contrast from some of the more upbeat and vocal driven material. Boots is a versatile rapper, as the transition to a much slower groove is a seamless one, and just as easily, the Coup transitions once again to a much thicker beat and quicker delivery in the very next song.
Possibly most endearing about the album is the variety. While a variety of political topics are addressed on the album, there's a lot of light-hearted raps, like "Ass Breath Killer." Dumb as the name does sound, the song, with its thick crackly beat, offers its fair share of memorable moments, as does "Tiffany Hall," a song centered on a slow, slinky beat that stays firmly in the background, even including some soulful guitar riffs at the end, amongst a repeated chorus of "Hey Tiffany, we love you!."
Anybody willing to open up past the roster of Fat Wreck will probably enjoy this quite a good deal. It's varied yet strong in all of its individual parts and nuances. Emcee Boots Riley offers depth on top of his skill, and the group of musicians behind him leaves nothing to be desired either.