On "Pimps," from 1994's Genocide and Juice, the Coup satirized billionaires, imagining how the likes of Rockefeller and Trump would use rap verses to boast of their financial exploits. On "Guillotine," from the new Sorry to Bother You, the Bay Area rap group damn near satirizes itself, building the song's chorus around the title's hackneyed symbol of populist rebellion. On "Bullets and Love," from 2006's tremendous Pick a Bigger Weapon, a funky synth added suspenseful atmosphere to Boots Riley's characteristic raps about left-wing upheaval. On the new album's "You Are Not a Riot," a high-pitched keyboard twiddles away annoyingly over an anxious beat.
The Coup often go as far for humor as they do for revolution. (Check out Jello Biafra's hilarious skits on Weapon.) But Sorry doesn't yield many solid laughs, even with the festive kazoo of "Your Parents' Cocaine." Instead, the group flirts with anxious rock on tracks like "Strange Arithmetic," as if Riley is in a hurry to get his point across. The Coup doesn't really find its signature blend of cocky and volatile until closing track "WAVIP": "You know I'm ballin' soft/Make my drink a Molotov," Riley raps, amid guest verses from Killer Mike and Das Racist. It still doesn't hold a candle to Weapon's manifesto, "We Are the Ones," or the cheeky love letter to shoplifting, "I Love Boosters!"
Still, Sorry deserves credit for taking chances. Riley envisions monsters conducting a grisly board meeting on "We've Got a Lot to Teach You, Cassius Green," and "The Magic Clap" gives the album a celebratory opening. And despite Sorry's disappointments, Riley maintains a quick-tongued flow that should serve the Coup well when they play the Majestic Nov. 26.