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A Song for the Shoplifters

The Coup's Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress realize what the best blues and soul artists always knew: Focus on everyday people, and you'll never run out of stories. For nearly 15 years, The Coup has been one of the lone voices speaking to the trials and tribulations of working-class, inner-city black life -- a constituency that hip-hop doesn't represent often enough.

In the tradition of The Coup's best songs, "I Love Boosters!" speaks to stark daily struggles in a funny way. For The Coup, boosters -- also known as shoplifters -- constitute an important link in the fashion chain, providing brand-name couture at a significant discount. Quoth Riley: "My shirt is from Stacy, my pants are from Rhonda / My shoes came out the trunk of a baby blue Honda / My wardrobe's in luck if something falls off a truck."

Though The Coup is widely known for its radical politics, this playful anthem isn't so much a call to action as it is a celebration of the little things that make the everyday easier to bear. As Riley acknowledges, it's not like petty theft is going to spark the revolution, but until that day, "All on our own, we survive this with slyness / But when we come together, all our fashion is flyness."

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Oliver Wang is an culture writer, scholar, and DJ based in Los Angeles. He's the author of Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews of the San Francisco Bay Area and a professor of sociology at CSU-Long Beach. He's the creator of the audioblog soul-sides.com and co-host of the album appreciation podcast, Heat Rocks.