In his 20-odd years in the hip hop game, Raymond “Boots” Riley has always strived to deliver a message of sociopolitical awareness. Tonight in Isla Vista, UCSB students will have the opportunity to hear the message live in concert as The Coup frontman is set to take the stage where the 6500 block of Del Playa Drive meets Ocean Road beginning at 7:30 p.m.
“We want to deliver a message of social justice, and we knew he will deliver that message,” MultiCultural Center Associate Director Viviana Marsano said of Riley.
Boots is far from the average, modern day rapper heard on the radio. From the start of his career, the Oakland, Calif. Native has used his lyrics as a medium for spreading information influenced by the Progressive Labor Party and International Committee Against Racism — two groups he aligned with in his adolescence. The skilled emcee has often taken breaks from the studio in order to focus on political organizing and public speaking.
Critically speaking, Riley has received underground success for his five albums with The Coup, a group he formed in 1992 with now-defunct rapper E-Roc and DJ Pam the Funkstress. His greatest commercial acclaim came with The Coup’s 2001 release of Party Music, awarded Album of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle. Two songs from the album were later featured in the 2007 summer blockbuster “Superbad.”
Almost as unique as Boots himself is the venue where he will be performing. For the first time in school history, the MultiCultural Center — the group sponsoring the show — is hosting an outdoor event right along the ocean.
Working with an urban planner, the MCC has a plan to set up a block party-like atmosphere spanning the 6500 block of DP prior to the concert to help publicize the event. Helping to fund the MCC in its exploits are the Associated Students Finance Board, the Isla Vista Community Relations Committee and KCSB 91.9 FM.
“We are trying to bring alternative programming to I.V.,” Marsano said “We couldn’t get full closure of DP [to hold the concert], but we are having a food truck, art on balconies, an African drummer and a group of students from a spoken word class. The whole idea is to bring neighbors out of their homes to share in the atmosphere.”
Having seen The Coup live on several occasions, this writer can attest that Boots Riley’s stage presence and conscious brand of funkadelic hip hop combines for sights and sounds you will not want to miss. After all, it’s not everyday you get to see “a walkin’ contradiction, like bullets and love mixin.’” (taken from “Bullets and Love,” off The Coup’s Pick a Bigger Weapon album).