If you look hard enough at the cover of Pick a Bigger Weapon, you can see dangling legs through a hole in the wall of a ransacked Omnimart corporate office. DJ Pam "The Funkstress"' holds a bat, Boots Riley holds a pen, and bottles of a product called Ass-Breath Killer are on a desk and the ground. It's evident that this cover isn't likely to put them in hot water, like the original cover of Party Music did almost five years prior, unless someone prominent and silly finds the legs shocking. The Coup's long-standing balance between humor and righteous anger remains on this, their fifth album, and they still deliver the laughs and rants over juiced synth-funk. This time out, they use the band format more than before, with the likes of Audioslave's Tom Morello, Tony! Toni! Toné!'s D'Wayne Wiggins, and a few funk vets chipping in on occasion. The album's press sheet draws comparisons to Prince's Dirty Mind and Too Short, and while that's not inaccurate, the references could just as easily be Digital Underground, Paris, Above the Law, E-40, late-'70s Parliament/Funkadelic, any previous Coup album, or just about any other funk-steeped rap album that has come from the West Coast. Nursery rhyme-style choruses like "Bush and Hussein together in bed, giving H-E-A-D head/Y'all muthaf*ckas heard what we said/Billions made and millions dead" will get some attention, while complex verses that are not as easy to digest (or quote) will not. Boots is as lyrically pointed as ever, dropping dozens of resonant rhymes that rail and educate, and he's even better when he punctuates his messages with humor, as he does in a faux-uppity voice on "We Are the Ones": "The one university I knew was Yale, so I cooked it, bagged it, put it on sale/Now, philosophically, you'd be opposed to one inhaling coke by the mouth or nose/But, economically, I would propose that you go eat a dick as employment had froze." Even "Ass-Breath Killers" has a much deeper meaning than the title indicates -- ass breath comes from kissing ass, and if you use the product, you'll grow a spine and maybe die for speaking your mind. Some fans might hastily skip past the sleazy romantic interludes ("Ijuswannalay..." seems to exist only to segue smoothly into "Head"), but the album is perfectly capable of rattling trunks and energizing activists.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman