Prophets of Rage


Finally! I had been waiting for some protest music — any protest music, quite frankly — in response to the usurpation of the US government by a bona fide fascist regime ever since Election Day, but at long last we have our first proper soundtrack of outrage to motivate us for the long fight ahead. And who better to serve up rousing tunes of righteous militance than Tom Morello and Chuck D? Prophets of Rage are a sort of counterculture super group, consisting of Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine, Chuck D and DJ Lord of Public Enemy, and B Real of Cypress Hill.  Granted, their eponymous debut doesn’t quite pack the same punch as any proper albums released by Rage and Public Enemy in their respective heydays, but considering how necessary an album of unabashed rebellion is for navigating these fucked up times in which we live, this is of little concern to me. Everyone involved is fantastic in his own right, so I’m confident they’ll find their groove in future releases.

When George W. Bush made it clear that he was going to lead us into a war with Iraq under the false pretense of that country being complicit in the 9/11 attacks, for quite some time thereafter, I didn’t hear any musicians aside from the Dixie Chicks even bother to broach the subject. Sure, there were a couple of great underground releases from Killing Joke and Sleater-Kinney that brought the punk rock attitude to bear on the political climate of the time, and Radiohead chimed in with their rather tepid contribution a few months later. But it wasn’t until Green Day released American Idiot that a mainstream band finally dared to give W the radio-friendly middle finger he so deserved.

Never did I think I’d find myself almost nostalgic for the Bush era, but this is America and we suck so much ass that I can’t even anticipate the next mind-bogglingly self-defeating and inhumane shit we may pull for our next trick. I grew up in the 80s when hardcore and punk rock had no mainstream appeal and therefore, hearing bands like the Dead Kennedys, MDC, Reagan Youth, and the Bad Brains eviscerate Ronald Regan on college radio was a sublime experience I never dreamed would become commercialized just one decade later. And, of course, when a genre becomes commercialized, songs of political outrage give way to safer material such as bratty post-breakup temper tantrums a-la Blink 182. An era had ended, never to return.

Protest music, though far less prevalent, is now solely in the hands of intrepid musical elderstatesmen like Tom Morello, Chuck D and Bruce Springsteen. You read that correctly, I said Bruce Springsteen, who has been quietly releasing albums of brutal sociopolitical realism for the past decade, sometimes in collaboration with Mr. Morello. So I tip my hat to Prophets of Rage for this long-awaited and enormously important injection of vital anger into the pop culture zeitgeist. And Trump, you motherfucker, you’d better listen up. Here’s a little taste:

22 thoughts on “Prophets of Rage

  1. One of the first things I said to Mrs C on that fateful night in November was, “well, music will probably get a whole lot better.” I was surprised, like you, that it had taken so long to get that culture moving (though we’ve seen it aplenty in comedy and on awards shows), but I’m sure we’ll continue to see it rise. Perhaps they were as shell-shocked as we were.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I certainly hope it was just momentary shell-shock. I know Springsteen has an upcoming release and I have high hopes for that one. Jello Biafra, former Dead Kennedys front man, mostly does spoken word nowadays but I’m quite surprised that he hasn’t been more publicly vocal about everything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d be greatly interested to hear about your Jello encounters! He had done a few albums over the past few years with a band called the Guantanamo School of Medicine. As you know, Jello is an equal opportunity rage machine, so the lyrics focused on the Obama years. Recently, I heard that he re-worked Nazi Punks Fuck Off into Nazi Trump Fuck Off for his live shows, but that seems kinda lazy. Write a new song, Mr. Boucher.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Great cover, thank you for sharing it with me, Paul. Looks like I have some new music to discover today.
        And ever since I was given permission to delve into my parents large record collection at about 7 years old, I’ve been obsessed with the 60’s. If I had been of age back then, I think I would have been heavily involved with protesting. Burning my bra and shit.

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  2. Can’t fucking wait to give this one a proper listen. I appreciate your commentary on punk and protest music, especially the dig toward Blink-182 (and the slew of other bands with near-identical names… Sum 41, as a random example of some more shitty pop-punk) and the commercialization of what was a truly unique and forceful genre (DIY at it’s finest).

    I just also appreciate constantly hearing of your outrage at the current situation, political climate, social climate, and feeling fucking alone in this universe. Sometimes, especially when I see people (admittedly, this is on facebook, writer’s beat, other wastes of time) get all up in arm about them dam immigantz trying to raise up their nation over ours. What the fuck? That’s pure paranoia or garbage rhetoric or whatever you want to call it to justify building a big, wasteful fucking wall and the fact that you want to fly a confederate flag.

    By the by, folks who fly confederate flags are celebrating MOTHERFUCKING TRAITORS.

    Anyway, it made me feel not so alone when I feel genuine outrage at what is happening, and genuine confusion when others don’t feel the way I do, when others feel GOOD about this terrifying shit.


    I’ll stop.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And I’m glad that has been more or less acknowledged by the POTUS himself. I thought that would have pissed off his fan base more, but as has been said before, there’s not much you can do to shake his fan base. The guy was right about shooting someone in the face and getting away with it.

        What bothers me more than a wall really existing is that so many of our citizens WANT it. They don’t want the spirit of inclusion or brotherhood or even for others to live this American Dream thing. They want exclusivity. Bunch of fuckin’ party-poopers.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s telling that a lot of the protest music (what little there is of it) out these days is being written by people in their forties, fifties, and older. Young people today are used to being told what to do for “their own good.” I hope Prophets of Rage isn’t just preaching to the choir.

    Liked by 2 people

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