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 prez

    “For more than two decades, the music of Boots Riley and The Coup has been my soundtrack: a spicy synthesis of filthy funk and prophetic political fire. Boots Riley: Collected Lyrics and Writings is an epic achievement: twenty-five years of genius between two covers. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.”
    —Dave Zirin, author, What’s My Name, Fool?

    “Boots Riley is the voice of his generation. There is anger here for a heartless system, but there is also a great deal of compassion and hope for the future of humanity. Inside these lyrics and these sentences can be measured the heart rate of Occupy, BlackLivesMatter, Anonymous, Dreamers, Dream Defenders.”
    —Vijay Prashad, author, The Poorer Nations

    “When I tried to open the document a message said, ‘unable to open because there is trouble with the content.’ Now you know that must be some hip shit!”
    —Amiri Baraka

    Praise for The Coup

    “The Coup isn’t a rock ‘n’ roll band. It’s a hip-hop band. But they are a miracle of everyday life and proved it at Emo’s on Saturday night. I have no idea when the Coup turned into one of the best bands on the planet, but here we are.”
    —Austin American Statesman

    “I’d be surprised if I see anything at Outside Lands that impresses me more than the Coup’s set. It’s always the same deal with this East Bay troupe, led by genius rapper Boots Riley. Whether they are playing Coachella or Rock the Bells or, now, Outside, they always seem to outshine the competition.”
    —San Jose Mercury/ Oakland Tribune

    “Silk E sings and struts like Tina Turner raised on hip-hop.”

    “Considerable musical chops... The Coup throws one fine party.”
    —Los Angeles Times

    “Incendiary... Live instrumentation to challenge even the wildest rock music.”

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