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Hip-Hop Group Yanks Album Cover Depicting WTC Blast

Striking a macabre note, a new album cover by hip-hop band The Coup – whose music has a strong anti-capitalist bent – had until recently depicted the World Trade Center exploding, the band’s label said on Wednesday.

“We changed the artwork as soon as we saw what had happened,” said Daria Kelly, director of sales for 75 Ark, the band’s label.

Kelly said the picture, which eerily shows group member “Boots” Riley holding a detonator in front of the exploding towers, was yanked from the San Francisco-based company’s Web site at (http://www.75ark.com) by 9:30 a.m. PDT on Tuesday, hours after two hijacked airliners actually smashed into the World Trade Center’s twin towers and brought them down, possibly causing thousands of deaths.

Kelly said the artwork was done about two months ago for the band’s upcoming album, “Party Music,” which features a single called “5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO” and is due to hit stores on November 6.

“We were going to print them this week. Thank goodness we hadn’t yet printed them,” she said, adding that the new album cover would probably just bear the band’s logo.

Meanwhile, the rock band Dream Theater and its record company, EastWest, are contemplating whether to withdraw that group’s new album, “Live Scenes From NY,” because of similar cover art.

That album, released Tuesday, depicts the World Trade Center towers and the Statue of Liberty engulfed in flames and perched atop an apple draped in barbed wire.

“It’s an unfortunate coincidence, an eerie coincidence,” said Gihan Salem, a spokeswoman for EastWest, an imprint of Elektra Entertainment under AOL Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Music Group. She said a decision on whether to recall the album would be made in a day or two.

While the 75 Ark label quickly moved to delete the World Trade Center image – showing explosions in the towers at about the same level as the actual blasts – the picture has begun to circulate on the Internet and generate a lot of reaction.

It was featured Wednesday on lifestyle-culture Web site at (http://www.ammocity.com) accompanied by the following message: “The album cover for hip-hop group ‘The Coup’ manages to even outweird the quotes from Nostradamus doing the email rounds today.”

Kelly said she had not received any e-mails about the cover, noting it hadn’t been circulated by the label very much.

“We just started press about a month ago,” she said describing the Oakland, Calif.-band’s music as focusing on the “destruction of corporate America.”

The band, considered among the more overtly political rap bands, was formed in the early 1990s. Lead rapper/producer Boots Riley, whose real name is Raymond Riley, was involved in political activism before becoming a musician, according to music industry sources.

Released in 1993, the Coup’s debut album “Kill My Landlord” was a highly charged blend of leftist resistance and 70s funk, which received wide critical praise.

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