Who is HiCoup?
As a former political activist and noted abstract expressionist painter, HiCoup is one of the most enigmatic artists you will ever meet. His life has been nothing but a paradox. Born in Brooklyn to a college educated mother and political activist father, but raised in Jersey City in the 80’s, he still had to withstand the harsh realities of the disenfranchised. Fighting for his survival was the norm, whether it was rising from child abuse and continued abuse in the foster care system or dealing with gang violence in his neighborhood. He will tell you he experienced more terrible events in his life by age 12 than most have by age 45.
His life hardships have only proved HiCoup to be a resilient survivor. His name serves as an explanation of himself. The name HiCoup does not only allude to the Japanese poetic style; it also conveys his approach to life: that he is willing to take what he needs by force, like a coup d’etat, if required. His life combined with his “I don’t give a F*&K’” attitude permeates his music and his latest album, Beast of Burden.
HiCoup is no stranger to the music scene having opened for artists like Busta Rhymes, Ghostface Killah, and Dead Prez, and performing in venues like SXSW for years. He has many albums and mixtapes under his belt, the most notable being Silverbackcaddilacslang, Ghetto Factory, and the Guerilla Jones mixtape and LP. He also has a strong following in Europe under the French label Vilain Mac, and longstanding collaborations with Dutch artist Sotu the Traveller, most recently on the Rise and Shine EP.
Conceptually, Beast of Burden explains HiCoup’s current stage of life and his necessary hiatus from music. Beast of Burden recounts his growing pains into adulthood; trading a music career for one of hard manual labor in order to provide a household for his son after years of fighting for legal custody. The song “Wolf Tickets” is a modern day fable that speaks to the hard headedness of adolescence and explains to young men, that they are not the first, nor the last, to go though their problems. “Concrete Jungle Bunny” examines the unsavory aspects of HiCoup’s upbringing with the positive influences he had with academia and the art world, and how he reconciles them in his adult life. While going back to his activist roots, “Animal Crackers” provides social commentary on the crumbs mainstream society gives disenfranchised communities.
Having collaborated with acclaimed producer DJ Johnny Juice of Public Enemy, the tracks bring a distinct retro sound with clear influences of 60’s blues and 70’s soul. Together, HiCoup and Johnny Juice make Beast of Burden both sonically engaging and lyrically compelling. The burden HiCoup presents in this album is heavy, yet also his badge of honor.