Haymarket Books
Books for changing the world
Boots Riley
Tell Homeland Security-We Are the Bomb
Blending poetics, politics, and everyday life, the singular lyrics of Boots Riley, poet of the hip-hop underground are collected here.
Provocative and prolific, Boots Riley has written lyrics as the frontman of underground favorites The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club, as well as solo artist, for more than two decades. An activist, educator, and emcee, Riley’s singular lyrical stylings combine hip-hop poetics, radical politics, and wry humor with Bay Area swag. Boots Riley: Collected Lyrics and Writings brings together his songs, commentary, and backstories with compelling photos and documents.

  • Praise for Boots Riley and The Coup

    Praise for Boots Riley: Collected Lyrics and Writings

    “Every line of Boots Riley’s work brims with the grit of the underdog, burns with rage, wit, and tenderness. It’s no secret he is one of the most influential poets and thinkers of this generation.”
    —Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop, Wont Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation

    “Boots lyrics contain the wit and satire to match their venom and their potent political punch. His intricate yet relatable rhymes are like a combination of a Richard Pryor sketch and a guerrilla warfare manual.”
    —Tom Morello

    “Boots’s unparalleled lyrics are here, but there’s so much more, too—all of it bearing Boots’s trademark combination of revolutionary politics, absurdist humor, and rare lyricism. This is a great book about a great man.”
    —Dave Eggers

    “Marx wrote, ‘To be radical means to go to the root, and the root—is man himself.’” For Boots Riley, ‘man’ is ‘the people,’ the root is where he lives, creates, and resists, and this book is one of the most genuine expressions of a radical voice you will find anywhere. His lyrics, musings, and memories reveal a brother at home in the world; no struggle or corner of the globe goes unthought, unsung, or unmoored from its mythical veneer. No mere compendium of rhymes, Boots Riley: Collected Lyrics and Writings is his Red Book—at once a manifesto, a work of art, an archeology of knowledge, a genealogy of revolutionary funk, and a window onto a world of injustice and joy, pain, and possibility. Dig it!”
    —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

    “The very existence of a person like Boots Riley is a miracle: he unites profound theoretical insights into the deadlocks of global capitalism, authentic political engagement in the Occupy movement, and wonderful musical performances. I am simply proud to be associated with him—as long as guys like Boots are around, the radical Left is not dead!”
    —Slavoj Žižek

    “It’s not every day that you have a poet from Oakland kick start a political hip-hop movement, but that’s what Boots Riley specializes in: bringing the concentrated, undiluted vision of his area to the world. When you look at the traditions of poetry he evokes from Iceberg Slim, The Watts Prophets, Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsberg, Chuck D, Claude McKay, The Last Poets, Jean Toomer, Saul Williams, Sarah Jones, and more—you can see where this collection of his poetry comes from. This is the sound of twenty-first-century paradox—beautiful, enigmatic, deep like a river. Boots Riley’s poetry is distilled from the strength of his insights into the abstract but made all the more powerful for its concerns with the everyday life of the people that his words speak of. As Allen Ginsberg once said, ‘Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.’ Boots Riley’s poetry takes aim at that situation, and puts it front and center, where it should be. Oakland flow, y’all. Check it.”
    —DJ Spooky

    “I’ve always respected and admired Boots’ unique style as a lyricist. He is at once a storyteller, agitator, educator, comedian, poet, and emcee with a degree in authenticity and a double major in empathy. I’m happy to see this collection come together from my friend and comrade who is so humble yet an icon in hip-hop. All Bob Marley ever had was redemption songs—and all Boots ever wrote are lyrics of liberation!”
    —STIC of dead p

Related blog posts View all related posts

  • Haymarket Books Holiday Gift Guide

    This is the year to introduce your favorite radical books to your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and comrades.

    We've assembled a guide of some of our books that make great gifts, with suggestions for (just about) anyone on your list.

    Below, we offer suggestions for the young person in your life looking for radical inspiration in the struggles of the past, the sports fan cheering on Colin Kaepernick as he continues to kneel for the National Anthem, or the family member or friend who's been asking you what we can do to resist Trump and fight for a better world.

    Oh yeah, and everything is 50% OFF until January 3rd!

    Continue Reading