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A milder Coup; an Xstatic Web site

Wednesday, Sep 19 2001
Suggested cover image for the Coup's next album: world peace East Bay hip hop act the Coup can foresee the future. That conclusion would at least explain the proposed cover for the group's new album, Party Music, its fourth. The image, which was supposed to be printed on Tuesday, Sept. 11, features the Coup's leaders, "Boots" Riley and Pam the Funkstress, standing with a detonator in front of the exploding twin towers of the World Trade Center. When the towers actually came under attack, Toni Isabella, GM of the Coup's record label, 75Ark, halted the cover's print run.

At first, Riley argued that the cover should be kept. According to an article on, Riley pointed out that the design was "supposed to be a metaphor for the capitalist state being destroyed through the music." Before the attack, reviews of the record featuring the WTC cover had already appeared in Spin, CMJ, and the print version of Wired with no complaints lodged. But after the planes hit, a distributor refused to carry the album as planned, and angry callers and e-mailers lodged vehement protests with the label.

When asked why she decided to switch the artwork, Isabella said via phone from her S.F. office, "It was apparent to me that it could be -- considering the horrible circumstances -- wrongfully misunderstood. The image could be potentially hurtful to a lot of people." In order to meet its Nov. 8 street date, the label needs to turn in new artwork this week; at press time, Isabella hadn't decided on a replacement image. But she felt that despite her office being "inundated by e-mail and calls of a violent and hateful variety" the Coup's record would sell no more or less because of the controversy. "The people who would buy it -- their fan base -- will buy it regardless, and the people that say, "I'm going to tell everyone not to buy your record,' weren't going to buy it anyway," she said. "I've been e-mailing all of them personally, and one thing I point out is that it's a curiosity that this image has been out in front of thousands of people [in print reviews] and no one was upset before now."

"I want people to understand -- the people who are passing this image around -- that we here are touched by this tragedy, too." She also wanted to stress that "the Coup advocates change, but change through peaceful means, never through violence."

Power to the pill poppers In these times of confusion, anger, and fear, there's one thing that almost everyone can get behind: ecstasy. Or should I say Ecstasy. Though lots of law enforcement types aren't on the E train quite yet, many other folks are. Take Shock G of local rap group Digital Underground, for instance. Shock G points out the merits of the Xceptional drug in his ironically titled essay "Rocket Science: Why Alcohol Is Better Than Ecstasy" (found on his Web site,, under the header "New World Odor"). Here are a few of his comparisons: "Drunks at the bar blow smoke in your face, spit when they talk, and like to start fights; Ecstasy users drink water and dance." "Coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, and guns promote edginess, cancer, aggression, and death; Ecstasy promotes kissing." "Ecstasy users have crazy, sick parties where they cheer DJs for bustin' hot new beats; drunks have crazy sick breath with which they cheer athletes for bustin' someone's ribs."

After the comparisons, Shock G includes a letter to an unnamed senator in which he asks to be saved from "manslaughtering drunk drivers," "tough-guy wife-beaters," "beer-drinking, bitter, racist gun-users," and "dangerous Ecstasy back rubs." (He also points out that Jeffrey Dahmer, Son of Sam, Hitler, and other killers didn't do Ecstasy. That may be a bit over the top.)

Finally, Shock G asks, "Which of the following four sentences is not a part of a girl's day-after-ecstasy conversation? 1. "Oh my God! Kevin and I just held each other and talked all night! It was beautiful!' 2. "Oh my God! I felt so sexy and confident that, for the first time, Steve and I did it with the light on! And he loved it!' 3. "Oh my God! We danced all night! It was beautiful!' or 4. "Oh my God!! I can't remember who I fucked last night, and I got a D.U.I. and threw up on a police officer!!!'" Well, Shock, I'm going to have to go with No. 4. Not that I've ever ... been a girl.

Given the other solutions people have thrown out to "fix" terrorism -- tightening airport security, bombing the hell out of everyone who looks at us sideways, wrapping the entire country in bubble gum -- Shock G may be onto something better. If the CIA can flood the inner cities of our own country with heroin, why can't we bury Afghanistan in Ecstasy?

About The Author

Dan Strachota


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