Study Guide

The Repo Man Sings for You

The Repo Man Sings for You Introduction

In a Nutshell

"The Repo Man Sings for You" is a bit bitter at times. It centers on the image of a demonic representative of your local bank who has come to take your stuff in the night. The anonymous man offers no mercy and no apologies, and he wildly sings "la, la, la, la, la" at you while he drives off in your car.

It's a caricature of sorts, but for those who have had cars repossessed or houses foreclosed on in real life, the impersonal nature of the whole process can be a little nightmarish. We also shouldn't have to remind you that in the decade following the Coup's clever lyrical composition, a little thing happened that relates quite closely to the topic of "The Repo Man Sings for You."

What was that, you ask? Oh, yes, right: that little thing called the foreclosure crisis, a disaster of pretty epic proportions involving the loss of millions of homes and accusations of widespread fraud on the part of huge banking companies. 

"The Repo Man Sings for You," recorded in 1998, takes on a whole new significance in the context of a crisis that is in many ways a massive mirror of the situation the song describes.

About the Song

ArtistCoup feat. Del tha Funkee Homosapien, The
Year1998
LabelDogday
Writer(s)Boots Riley, Del tha Funkee Homosapien
Producer(s)Boots Riley
Musician(s)Boots Riley, Del tha Funkee Homosapien (vocals), DJ Pam the Funkstress (mixing)
AlbumSteal This Album

Music Video

_MUSIC_VIDEO_HTML_

Influences on Coup feat. Del tha Funkee Homosapien, The

Public Enemy
KRS-One
Ice Cube
Digital Underground
DJ Prince of Charm

The Repo Man Sings for You Resources

Books

Mickey Hess (editor), Hip Hop in America, A Regional Guide: Volume I East Coast and West Coast (2010)
This book has a fine section on The Coup as an example of funky, political West Coast hip-hop.

John Malkin, Sounds of Freedom: Musicians on spirituality and social change (2005)
Check out an interesting interview with Boots Riley, who doesn't believe in god but does believe in a spiritual role for music.

Albums

Kill My Landlord (1992)
Start at the beginning with The Coup's innocent-but-awesome first release.

Steal This Double Album (2002)
The re-release of Steal This Album has all the original songs plus two extras and a long live CD.

Party Music (2001)
Most collections called "Party Music" are a bunch of radio pop to dance to—The Coup plays with double entendre here, using party to mean political party (as in, the Communist Party) as well as a social event. According to The Coup worldview, it can be both at once.

Images

Steal This Album Cover
Steal This Album stole its concept from a 1960s guide for radicals by Abbie Hoffman called Steal This Book.

Boots Riley
Combing his 'fro.

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
You can see why he made a good sidekick playing the part of evil.

Boots and Pam the Funkstress
Pam was Boots' most long-term collaborator in The Coup.

Controversial Party Music cover
This cover, designed a few months before the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, was redesigned before Party Music dropped in late 2001. But the original cover had already been released on the website, and the damage was done: in 2006, Riley said he never does an interview where he does not get asked about the album cover.

Pick a Bigger Weapon Cover
Riley kept it ridiculous well into the 2000s.

Movies & TV

Sounds Like a Revolution (2010)
This award-winning documentary features activist musicians in a variety of genres working for social change while making great music. The Coup is a perfect fit.

Sir! No Sir! (2005)
A documentary about youth resistance to war recruitment, The Coup provides a piece of the soundtrack with their song "Captain Sterling's Little Problem."

Websites

The Coup on Epitaph Records
This is the official site for the record company that released The Coup's 2006 album Pick a Bigger Weapon. Previous albums were released on Polemic Records, 75 Ark, DogDay and Wild Pitch.

The Coup on MySpace
Listen, watch and enjoy.

"The Life of Riley," by Eric Arnold. East Bay Express, April 26, 2006.
This detailed profile of Boots Riley talks about his roles as a father, a mentor, a political activist and a hip-hop visionary—but begins with a slightly contradictory description of how Boots got into politics. Later in the article, he'll tell us he was deeply influenced by his activist parents.

The Streetsweeper Social Club
For the Boots Riley enthusiast, this rock n' roll meets hip-hop collaboration with Tom Morello is his latest and most active project.

Video & Audio

The Coup: "The Repo Man Sings For You" (1998)
Just the track.

The Coup: "We Are The Ones" (2006)
The Coup doesn't have too many official music videos out there—this more recent one captures the group's mood and politics pretty perfectly.

The Coup: "Fat Cats and Bigga Fish" (1994)
This song is full of the funky fun of early Coup tracks. "The streetlight reflects off the urine on the ground / Which reflects off the hamburger sign as it turns round / Which reflects off the chrome of the BMW / Which reflects off the fact that I am broke" is but a single lyrical gem from this one.