THE GREATEST OF ALL TUNES: Me and Jesus the Pimp in a ’79 Granada Last Night by The Coup (1998)

A rare example of a long-form (seven mintues!) rap song, Me and Jesus the Pimp tells the story of Boot Riley as a kid, who tells of a neighborhood gangsta who is now “fifty and his belly hangs lower than his dick.”  The chorus is a classic call out: “Oakland do you wanna ride?  I can’t hear you, Oakland do you wanna ride tonight?”  The delivery is smooth and chill, like riding slow in a convertible with your arm hanging out the window, and the lyrics are a provocative mashup of nostalgia and rage: “There’s beauty in the cracks of the cement/When I was five I hopped over them to prevent/Whatever it was that could break my momma’s back/Little did I know that it would roll up in a Cadillac…”  It tells of how Jesus brutalized her, turning her out and putting her in the hospital, and eventually killing her.  It’s really a shocking story, full of emotion, that recognizes how rap culture can glamourize folks like Jesus—even turn them into heroes and martyrs (hence, his name, Jesus)—but in reality, it’s the kids who suffer and who grow up turning into the next generation of Jesuses—“I don’t think that it’s gonna end until we make revolution/But who gonna make the shit if we worship prostitution?”
The song appeared on The Coup’s third record, titled “Steal This Album,” and it’s a masterpiece.

Further listening: I like The Coup a lot, and recommend all their albums.  In terms of other possible G.O.A.T.s, though, I guess I’d go with these songs: Kill My Landlord, 5 Million Ways to Kill a C.E.O., and Laugh/Love/Fuck.”

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