The Repo Man Sings For You
"The Repo Man Sings For You" at first seemed to us like a straightforward character study ("A work of fiction in which the delineation of the central character's personality is more important than the plot," says Dictionary.com). But then we realized that the song doesn't exactly develop a character with nuance, or even with any personality traits to speak of. Instead, the song approaches the Repo Man as more of a caricature, an exaggerated depiction of a stock bad guy designed to make a point. It's more Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice than, you know, Hamlet or someone else complex. In this case, the caricature serves the purpose of making a statement against banks. The character in question, the Repo Man, played in the song by Del the Funkee Homosapien, is just mean at first:
Heh, we don't care how hard you worked, we takin yo' s---
It's too late, your payment's way past your due date
You couldn't hide from me, even with a new face
Or plastic surgery, your debt's outstandin
But as the song develops—and Boots Riley takes over the narrative voice and tells the story from the perspective of the person whose stuff is getting repossessed—the Repo Man seems more and more nightmarish:
See I was sleepin on the carpet in my apartment
when I heard my car ignition cause somebody sparked it
So I run all the way down the hallway full throttle
Don't give in is my motto, so I bust him with a bottle
He screamin, "Whatchu gon' pay me with?"
Then he started laughin singin crazy s---
Woah. The Repo Man is now being depicted as a nighttime carjacker, but a little wackier and more conniving. And Boots, as the narrator, is willing to enter into a physical altercation with the dude, telling him to "Shut the f--- up!" and threatening him with various weapons. A third voice enters the song at the end, the first-person voice of a woman whose stuff is getting taken away, screaming and crying as the Repo Man makes off with all the stuff in her house. They may not develop a complex character here, but The Coup make their point: they don't like the folks from the bank, and all that they represent.