Boots (of The Coup) on the proper role of music
[excerpt from a recent interview -- can read the whole thing here; The Coup's webpage is here & its myspace page is here.]
JR: How did you come up wit' the concept of the Coup? And how did the Coup become a rap group?
Boots: Everybody was always rappin' in high school. I had thought about doin' it. I was already an organizer. How could I put some of those ideas in? I was kind of skeptical on if it could work.
One day, we were doing some organizing in Double Rock projects (in Hunters Point, San Francisco). We did that constantly there at that time. This was in '89. There was a woman there named Rossy Hawkins and her two twin 8-year-old sons that were gettin' beat down by the police. I wasn't there at the time, but this is the story that was told to me; tens, almost hundreds of people told me a story similar to this, and I personally also knew Rossy Hawkins.
Her and her two sons got beat down by the police in the middle of Double Rock projects, and immediately the whole projects came out. Rossy Hawkins and her sons were bloody. There had recently been a case where the police beat someone down and then didnt even take them to the hospital, and he died in custody in the car.
So the neighborhood was like "let's get her away from them and take her to the hospital ourself." So they started to charge the police. The police got scared and started shootin' up in the air. If you've ever had a gun shot right around you, the first thing that you think is that I could die right now. So everybody ran.
At some point people turned back around, and by the end of the night, they had got Rossy Hawkins and her sons away, got her to the hospital. And there were three police cars turned over, and the police ran out on foot without guns.
Needless to say that none of this was in the news the next day. Not even a story about it was in the news anywhere. But when we went back, everybody told their story, and the parts that I'm telling you are the parts that everybody had the same. So everybody had other little details; some of them matched up, and some of them didnt match up. But this part that I'm telling you matched up.
The other part that matched up was when everybody was running away from the police, somebody started chanting, "Fight the Power!" "Fight the Power!" "Fight the Power!" And this was in the summer of 1989, and Public Enemy's song "Fight the Power" was all over the radio at the time.
Everybody said that made them know what they was supposed to do. So even though the police were shootin' up in the air, people charged the police and did what they had to do.
That let me know what music is supposed to do. It's supposed to be a rallying cry, it's supposed to be a theme, a chant, an anthem that lets people understand that there is a unity of thought goin' on, that if you like this song and it is sayin' something to you, it's probably saying that same thing to thousands of other people, and it gives you what you need to go into battle.