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Protest Song Of Week: ‘Prophets Of Rage’

Clear the way for the Prophets of Rage. The Republican National Convention is upon us, and one of the biggest supergroups in protest music history kicks off its tour with a debut single and a concert scheduled to coincide with the convention.

The supergroup consists of: Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, and drummer Brad Wilk; Chuck D and DJ Lord of Public Enemy; and B-Real of Cypress Hill.

Ever since the supergroup announced their plans to “Make America Rage Again,” there has been a sensational response. Media outlets have covered all facets of the group, posted clips of performances at venues prior to their planned tour, and even published stories that give a nod to the importance of protest music.

The debut single, “Prophets of Rage,” is a revamping of the classic Public Enemy hip hop track of the same title, which inspired the name of the supergroup.

Chuck D raps the first and third verses. The first verse is very similar to the first verse of the original. The third verse is the second verse from the original.

B-Real raps the second verse, and his lyrics are a key part of the update. “Raise your fists up/Fuckin’ everything wrong with the system,” B-Real spits. “People hungry and dying/They ain’t got a home/This is the nature created for the Terrordome.”

But its the Rage Against the Machine sound that makes this is a full sail re-imagination of the Public Enemy classic. The opening now features a siren instead of words about the rights of people being persecuted to be hostile. The drums and bass, with the words, “Clear the way,” whispered, follow classic Rage Against the Machine motifs, as the song winds up and then blasts off into righteous fury.

As Morello declared in an interview for The Young Turks, the supergroup wanted to inject its voice into the “insane mountain of bullshit that is going on in the electoral season.”

Between the members, they have Rage Against the Machine’s catalog, as well as the catalog of music from Public Enemy and Cypress Hill. The songs carry relevance to the moment, and the moment demanded that the songs no longer lie dormant.

“These dangerous times demand these dangerous songs,” Morello added. It’s time to “play them, to ragify the people and Make America Rage Again.”

Prophets of Rage, which aims to fuel resistance in a time when there is a great need for protest, opens up space for citizens to voice their discontent with the system, especially when the politicians claim all the people can do is vote and here are two corporate options selected for the people to choose—Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

It also subverts the music business itself, compelling other artists to speak to the times in which we are living with their craft too. Plus, the supergroup has arranged for a number of $20 seats to be available at all of their shows so working class people may afford tickets to see them perform. They also have linked up with local homeless shelters across the country, and a portion of ticket sales is going to help the homeless.

Prophets of Rage embodies all that is great in protest music. It represents the apex of what musicians can achieve through their craft. In fact, they recently played a free show on a rooftop in Skid Row, a part of Los Angeles which has been the target of some of the worst neoliberal “broken windows” police oppression.

It all starts with that incredible hybrid of rap and rock n’ roll music. Then the supergroup speaks to the political moment and address the hopelessness and despair. Then it empowers people, who love music, to feel the rage and direct their anger at the owners and everyone else in the United States, who deserve mass resistance.

Listen to “Prophets of Rage”:

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Are you an independent artist who has written and/or produced a protest song that you would like featured? Or do you have a favorite protest song? Submit a song to protestmusic@Shadowproof.com

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."