Prophets of Rage Release Debut Album of Resistance
The year of the protest song continues with the release of super group Prophets of Rage’s debut album on Sept. 15. Made up of Rage Against the Machine’s guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk, fronted by Public Enemy’s Chuck D with DJ Lord and capped off with Cypress Hill’s B-Real. On the surface you may think this is too good to be true. But with a sound lead by the ultimate anti-establishment rap-rock band backed by fellow resistance musicians, Prophets is forming under prime circumstances. This us-against-them mentality has been forming in our country for decades, solidifying itself over the past election year. Prophets of Rage created an album to add gasoline to the flames of what they see as hatred and violence against a chosen few.
While the roots of the band do, in part, stem from this past election, most of the angst and resistance heard on this record has been in the blood of each and every one of these musicians since they first stepped onto stage. During an interview with The Daily Show, Chuck D describes the band’s messaging, “We didn’t wish for the world to be in this f’ed up state for us to be a band, we would have found twelve topics (to sing about).” He goes on to describe that the 2016 election and subsequent P.O.T.U.S. was simply “the lowest hanging fruit to attack, under the belt.” Morello goes on to say, “We weave our convictions into our vocation,” an idea that’s been true for each of these artists since the beginning of their respective careers.
The music videos released by the band are in no way ambiguous about their messages. They’re true-to-life, startling looks into the current political upheaval and cultural battles our country has seen in recent years, even recent weeks. “Radical Eyes” shows images and videos, as fresh as last month, including the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, VA and the exploding heads of the recently fired White House staff. There’s no subtlety here, but who would expect subtlety from RATM or Public Enemy. Also, as Morello told Rolling Stone, “We’re an elite task force of revolutionary musicians determined to confront this mountain of election year bullshit…”That’s precisely what they’re doing with songs like “Unfuck the World” where B-Real and Chuck D trade off on the lines “No hatred/Fuck racists.”
Musically, Prophets is essentially RATM, trading in the now iconic lyricism of Zach de la Rocha with the equally impressive abilities of B-Real and Chuck D. It’s clear, sonically at least, that Morello maintains final creative direction. There’s a thirty-second plus break in the middle of the album that’s all DJ Lord, but for the most part, each and every song seems to come at the hands of Morello’s guitar and Wilk’s drums. That said, B and D have found their place at the head of the stage, and rightfully so. Neither emcee has lost a step with their abilities, though their rhymes may seem a bit dated. “Take Me Higher,” the funk-fueled anti-drone anthem features lines such as “Making these tears rain down like a mon-soon/Listen to the streets go boom” with a chorus that sounds like David Bowie’s “Fame,” but with drones. Everything is a bit on the nose here, but again, subtlety isn’t what Prophets are going for.
Fans craving that neck breaking hybrid rap-rock of Rage will be beyond pleased with Prophets’ debut. There’s no better example than their lead single “Prophets of Rage,” where Chuck D leads a literal battle cry. “Make way for the prophets of rage,” he yells. Are booming guitar licks, ear shattering drums and riot inciting lyrics enough to kick off the next revolution? Morello and company intend to find out. With fists and middle fingers held high, their namesake video ends with a call to arms “The world isn’t going to change itself. That’s up to you.”
“Prophets of Rage” is available Sept. 15 on Apple Music.