Boots Speaks Out About 9-11
by Davey D-9/20/02
Last week Boots Riley and his Oakland based rap group The Coup found themselves embroiled in a controversy that was unintended. Their new album 'Party Music' was scheduled to be released. There wasn't expected to be a whole lot of fanfare. While, Boots and The Coup have a strong fan base, they are no where on the level of national popularity like Jay-Z or P-Diddy. In other words the group wasn't expected to appear on MTV 's TRL or even DFX for that matter. The Coup wasn't expected to be played on a whole lot of Top 40 commercial stations anytime soon. Boots is on 75 Ark, a small label and his politically laced lyrics and Cali style funk beats were in sharp contrast to much of the subject materialistic subject matter being embraced and promoted by mainstream outlets.
The problem that Boots ran into had to do with the front album cover which depicted Boots holding a detonator blowing up the now destroyed World Trade Center. The cover was shot several months ago and was in line with Boot's philosophy of not liking capitalism. The World Trade Towers have been viewed as a symbol of capitalism all over the world. Boot's depiction was designed to symbolize a concept, little did he know that his picture would be eerily prophetic. Shortly after the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center, Warner Brothers which distributes the album decided to wisely pull the album. All images of the World Trade being blown up were removed from websites and distributed material. However, the word had gotten out and days later The Coup's album cover was being discussed all over the country.
Talk show pundits said it was just another example of the horrors 'gangsta rap'. Others said it was nothing but tasteless, cheap exploitation. Still others felt The Coup themselves needed to be investigated to see if they had any ties to subversive forces within the US. Boots rolled through our Hard Knock Radio show the other day and talked with us and our audience about the controversial album cover. He explained why it was pulled and offered his insights to the horrific tragedies that occurred just a week ago.
Davey D: Boots how are you?
Boots: What's going on? I got a bit of a cold╔
Davey D: I sat on this story for a bit because I didn't wanna bring any undue tension to you in lieu of Tuesday's tragedy. But the story is now out there╔ I read about it on various newswires and it was being talked about last night on local news talk stations╔I'm talking about your album cover╔ It's an eerie album cover that depicts you holding a detonator blowing up the World Trade building. Now of course this picture was taken several months ago, but its being talked about now with your album about to drop. I'm hearing people accusing The Coup of being irresponsible and unpatriotic. Others are saying you guys are trying to capitalize and exploit a horrific tragedy. I wanted to get your viewpoint on all this before it gets totally twisted. Talk about this.
Boots: Well, first the album got pulled. Second, people seem to be talking about this because the blast shown in the picture is on the same level and general area of where the planes crashed. When we originally made that picture it was in May and June. It was supposed to be a metaphor to symbolize us destroying 'capitalism'.
What The Coup talks about is what I think it takes to make a revolution. If anybody has ever listened to our music. I definitely espouse revolution and overthrowing the system. My way in which I think this has to happen is through hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of people moving, organizing and making something happen. I do think in the end it will be a violent revolution, but I don't think it's something that will happen by the act of a few people. I wanna say that off that bat, that last Tuesday's tragic act is not something that The Coup endorses.
What happened the other day was a tragedy but the media wants to make us think that this happened in a vacuum. They don't tell us about the fact that the US ordered a hundred thousand people killed in East Timor a few years ago. We funded the operation, brought the guns and as a matter of fact had US Generals as consultants who let them do the firing.
They don't talk about the fact that the US constantly creates terrorists groups to work against other countries such as FRAPH in Haiti run by Emanuel Constant who still lives in New York. And is protected by the CIA. They went and killed thousands of people in Haiti to overthrow Aristide using the same type of terrorist tactics that the US claims to be so shocked about.
Osama bin Laden himself was a CIA operative. He was a CIA operative working for the US against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Not only was he an operative, they [the CIA] trained him on his tactics which is one of the reasons they are probably so sure its him. They know because he is using their tactics. What I'm saying is this type of stuff is the modus operandi on a yearly basis for the United States government and the corporations that back them.
Davey D: I remember when I was younger and President Regan got shot, there was a college next to my school-Lehmen college that started a club called 'The Club to Assassinate Regan'. About a week after they started the club, Regan actually got shot and everyone who was in that club got questioned by the Secret Service even though the club was formed as a joke.With this album cover and the terrorist events having transpired, have you been questioned or do you think you will be questioned by law enforcement officials? Are you concerned about your safety considering how upset and angry people are about these terrorist attacks? Do you think people will see you as unpatriotic and take their anger out on you?
Boots: I'm not concerned. I realized that anything can happen but I'm putting my political viewpoint out there. Once again my political viewpoint is what happen on Tuesday should not happened. Those attacks are not at all in line with what I'm talking about and my sympathies go out to the families and friends of all those killed. As a matter of fact, I just found out an hour ago a friend of mine was on the plane from Newark-Flight 93.
The reason why Warner Brothers pulled this album cover doesn't have anything to do with sympathy for the people because you know as well as I do that right now they are trying to buy the movie rights to what happened last Tuesday. So to them, it's not about nobody should mention this subject. It's about the fact that I might have a political viewpoint and was in a position to give my spin as to why and what happened.
If you notice, all the media outlets on television have the exact same line. There's no variation in the editorials of what should happen. Everything is about; 'spend more money on the military', and 'people should join the military'. For the first time in my life and I didn't expect to see this... Black people standing on the overpass on one of the freeways in Oakland waving the American flag. It's because of all of this hype. This is why I wanted to keep the album cover. Originally the album cover had some humor which was lost with what happened on Tuesday. But I wanted to keep the cover so I could have a platform..
Davey D: Now I was going to ask you whether or not it was your decision to pull the album. I have been getting emails from people saying that if Boots was a true revolutionary, he would've never pull the album cover. So what your saying is the final decision was out of your control?
Boots: The decision came a couple of hours into the day after the second plane crash. Warner Brothers pulled the album.
Davey D: Now we should remind people that this isn't the first time Warner Brothers has been embroiled in controversy with rap artists. They had a major problem with Ice T after he did his song 'Cop Killer'.
Boots: They also had problems with Paris and his album 'Sleeping With The Enemy'.
Davey D: That's right╔ For folks who don't know Warner Brothers was the distribution company for Paris back in '92 when he released a song called Bush Killer. The inside cover had a picture of him standing behind a tree ready to assassinate then President Bush sr. Warner Brothers made him release the record after the 92 election... Lets take some phone calls..
Caller #1 [Kim]: Should the United States be partially accountable if bin Laden was a CIA operative that was trained by the US?
Boots: We don't know why the US is saying he did it. It could be for other reasons. The main point is the US trains terrorists. We're only up in arms now because this hit us here at home. Millions of people all over the world live in fear everyday╔
Caller#2 [Kwame]: You know Saddam Hussein was on the CIA payroll. A lot of people don't know that Kuwait used to belong to Iraq and it was America and Britain that separated them. That's where you get BP gas stations which is British Petroleum Gas... Also your boy Noreaga in Panama. He was part of the CIA.
Boots: In Panama, they killed mad amounts of people.
Caller#2 [Kwame]: There were mass grave sites after they did those bombings.
Boots: That's what gets me so upset. Now people are up in arms about last Tuesday as if life inside the US borders are somehow make you more of a human being. We dehumanize everyone else.
Caller#2 [Kwame]: They say there are 5000 thousands kids who die everyday in Iraq because of our sanctions. In fact the US just did a bombing raid in Iraq this past Sunday just before the World Trade attacks.
Davey D: Let me ask both of you guys this.. Someone listening to this conversation may conclude that you are not patriotic and you don't love this country. If you think America is so bad, why not leave and go to another place? If you don't like the way the game is played you are free to leave╔ How do you respond to that?
Boots: The thing about moving to another country is that the US is running the whole wide world. Like I said earlier, people are living in fear all over the world. They are living in fear of the United States military and the military operations which are on the United States' payroll. It would not help me at all to move anywhere else. The only thing that would help me is to be where I am and where I know people so we can organize to overthrow this country.
Caller#2 [Kwame] When people say you aren't patriotic, its usually white or European Americans.Now this next point applies to them as well as many of us [African Americans]. We deny history and we are ignorant of history. This is really a colony. It's not that I'm not patriotic. I'm patriotic to truth, righteousness and justice. I appreciate this guy I heard on the radio the other day. [The Dogg House] where he said 'truth is truth'. He said we should get the people who committed these acts, but we should also tell the truth about what this government does╔ The freedoms we have here are part of the deceptions of them [the gov't] doing all this other stuff. The CIA is training people in Central and South America to kill their own people. They set up puppet governments╔ A lot of people just don't know this. Some people are more political than others I'm just fighting for righteousness.
Davey D: Boots someone just sent us an email asking whether or not we should have a military? And if so what should be the purpose of the military?
Boots: The purpose of the military is to protect corporate interests╔ Any military for any government is gonna serve whoever runs that system. Here in the US, it's the capitalist, the ruling class and the multinational corporations.
To answer the question of how the military could be run differently? That will come only when there is a drastic change to the system. The military are the guns that allow these companies to keep making their money. For example, the FRAPH organization and Emanuel Constant in Haiti was funded by Nestles and the Spaulding baseball company. That was them protecting their profits in Haiti. They didn't want Aristide to raise the minimum wage up from 10 cents an hour.
The terrorism that the US perpetrates all over the world has to do with profits╔
Caller#3 [Stacey]╔ I wanna talk a little bit about tactics. ABC News says 90% of our country supports war, but when you scroll down and look at their website you see that only 432 people were polled. I just want to encourage everyone to go into the community and share this information and hold teach ins and talk to people who may not know these things. We can counter these big media conglomerations with one on one conversations with people.
Davey D: I would just add that anyone who has what we may consider an informed perspective step it up a notch and involve themselves in these on going discussions by writing letters to the editors, calling up local radio talk shows and tv stations and basically do whatever it takes to keep these perspectives out there so people don't fall prey to only what is being handed down by mass media╔ We can't allow corporations to define our conversations and agenda.... Boots any last comments.
Boots: I've gotten emails from people who were mad that we would put out such a cover with or without the tragedy. People should be mad that the US is gonna use the death of these people at the World Trade Center to beef up police and to further oppress people not only here but all around the world. They are going to get the green light to basically do whatever they want. Like the last caller pointed out. They said there is 90% support from the American people, but they only polled 432 people. That's so they can have an excuse to do whatever the hell they want.
Respond to Davey D at: Mrdaveyd@aol.com
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