In 2001, the unreleased album cover to the Coup's Party Music became a symbol of the post-9/11 balancing of civil liberties and patriotism. Two years later, Sonic Jihad, the fifth album by Paris, the San Francisco Bay Area's own "Black Panther of Rap," rekindles that controversy with a cover depicting a low-flying jet heading straight for the White House. Sonic Jihad is being marketed as an album so dangerous to homeland security that it's unavailable at chain stores (you can find it online at GuerrillaFunk.com). While it's several notches below an al Qaeda training booklet, it's laden with hard, crunchy beats -- as well as some pretty inflammatory comments about police, the government, and the media.
Paris' intensity and lyrical delivery haven't changed much in 13 years, Matrix and CNBC references aside. But these days, he alleges, "hip-hop has sold out," necessitating his latest comeback. "P-Dog in the cut back to bring the pain... It's the return of the Bush killa back to bust," he growls on the album's second track, "Field Nigga Boogie." The song hints at the rapper's return to classic form, with a keyboard bassline and insistent tempo that recall "Break the Grip of Shame," his breakout 1990 single. "What we about is justice and freedom/Fuck the rest," he bellows on "You Know My Name." On "Evil," Paris imagines what he'd do if he were morally corrupt. It's a technique that shows it's far easier to be an ignorant thug rapper than a thugged-out revolutionary.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.