Billions Co-Creator & Screenwriter Brian Koppelman, Opinions on The Coup & Amanda Shires


Brian Koppelman makes his living as the showrunner, co-creator and writer for the Showtime series Billions. Jim and Greg talk with Koppelman about how he innovatively uses music in the critically acclaimed show. They also discuss his past career as an A&R executive, where he discovered artists like singer-songwriter  Tracy Chapman. They'll also review the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed film Sorry to Bother You and the new release from country artist Amanda Shires.

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Sorry to Bother You Killer Mike, E-40, Merrill Garbus & tUnE-yArDs

Sorry To Bother You: The Soundtrack

Before the release of the critically acclaimed film Sorry to Bother You, writer-director (and Chicago native) Boots Riley was best known as the frontman of The Coup, a radical rap group based in Oakland, California. The Coup released a funk rock-infused album also called Sorry to Bother You back in 2012; back then, Riley had penned the film's screenplay but wasn't able to produce it until years later. Jim and Greg chat about the soundtrack to Riley's long-awaited passion project, with tracks featuring Janelle Monáe, Killer Mike, E-40, and Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. Jim is enthusiastic about the film and soundtrack, which he thinks are a great intro to The Coup. Greg is more ambivalent, maintaining that the original 2012 album is stronger and more original. Jim agrees that the 2012 Sorry to Bother You is full of neglected gems, like the first track ("The Magic Clap").

To the Sunset Amanda Shires

To the Sunset

Jim and Greg highlight tracks off singer-songwriter  Amanda Shires's new album To the Sunset, which came out earlier this month. Shires has serious musical chops: At just 15, she played violin in The Texas Playboys, once the backing band for "The King of Western Swing," Bob Wills. She later relocated to Nashville and joined the scene there. Now, when she's not releasing distinctive, genre-busting solo albums, she plays in husband Jason Isbell's touring band, The 400 Unit. Despite Jim's "limited country tolerance," he loves To the Sunset, especially Shires's gritty violin interludes. He also can't help but highlight her flair for telling intense and interesting stories. Shires's lyric writing is also a selling point for Greg, who finds her songs both pithy and powerful. He appreciates that To the Sunset eschews Americana cliches in favor of something fresh and exciting.

Brian Koppelman


Brian Koppelman has spent a lifetime in the entertainment industry. The son of record executive Charles Koppelman, he got his start as an A&R representative for labels like SBK and EMI. (He is credited with discovering fellow Tufts University student Tracy Chapman while still a college student.) A revelation later in his life brought him to his real passion: screenwriting. In the last 20 years, he has written, directed, or produced a dozen films, including Ocean’s Thirteen and Rounders. His latest success is the Showtime drama series Billions, which he leads as co-creator, showrunner, and executive producer. The show follows U.S. District Attorney Chuck Rhoades's relentless investigation of shady hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod. Billions allows Koppelman to indulge his inner music obsessive while tackling topics like class, power, gender and sexuality, and corruption.


Inspired by The Coup's keen social consciousness, Greg picks Curtis Mayfield's "(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go" for this week's desert island jukebox selection. He heard Durand Jones and the Indications cover this song at Lollapalooza earlier this month, the same weekend gun violence claimed 12 lives and wounded 62 others in Chicago. Though nearly 50 years old, Mayfield's song could not be more timely, critiquing the normalization of violence and the culture of complicity around it.

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