Raymond Lawrence Riley, better known by his stage name Boots Riley, is an American rapper, producer, screenwriter and film director. He is the lead vocalist of The Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club. His feature film directorial debut Sorry to Bother You, which he also wrote, was released in July 2018 and received positive reviews from critics.
In 1991, Riley founded the political hip hop group The Coup with a fellow United Parcel Service worker E-roc. Pam the Funkstress, DJ for the group, joined in 1992. Boots was chief lyric writer and produced the music on the albums. They released a song on a 1991 compilation album called Dope Like a Pound or a Key along with fellow former UPS worker Spice-1 and future Thug Life member Mopreme Shakur, then known as Mocedes. The album was released on Wax That Azz Records, which was owned by Pierre "The Beat Fixer" James, Too Short's DJ.
In 1992, The Coup signed to Wild Pitch Records/EMI. The group released their debut album Kill My Landlord in 1993. Two singles from that album, Dig It and Not Yet Free, received play on BET, Yo! MTV Raps, and mix shows on national Black radio.
In 1994, The Coup released their second album, Genocide & Juice. It featured guest appearances by E-40 and Spice-1. Fueled by video play and some radio play for the single Fat Cats And Bigga Fish, the album shot up the charts, but stalled when EMI suddenly absorbed Wild Pitch. At this point, E-roc left The Coup on amicable terms.
At this time, Boots decided to stop making music in favor of forming an organization called The Young Comrades, with a few other radical, black community organizers. The organization mounted a few important campaigns in Oakland which yielded some minor victories, such as the campaign against Oakland's "no cruising" ordinance.
In 2002, Riley taught a daily high school class, "Culture and Resistance: Persuasive Lyric Writing", at the School of Social Justice and Community Development in East Oakland.
In 2003, Vibe Magazine named Boots Riley one of the 10 most influential people of 2002.
During the fall of 2011, Riley became heavily involved with the Occupy Oakland movement.
In 2018, Boots Riley made his directorial debut with Sorry to Bother You which received critical acclaim.
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