Illustration via Max Fleishman

Prophets of Rage release debut song just in time for the RNC

The jam almost works.


Ramon Ramirez


Published Jul 19, 2016   Updated Feb 29, 2020, 3:29 am CST

Twitter hero Desus Nice joked last week that listening to Rage Against the Machine inspired him to make pipe bombs. If that’s true of the ’90s rap-rock legends, then Prophets of Rage—the nostalgic supergroup consisting of Rage’s rhythm section, Chuck D of Public Enemy, and B-Real of Cypress Hill—will maybe convince some people to vote for a Democrat.

On Monday, the politically minded band released debut single “Prophets of Rage.” It’s a sonic reboot: red-state riffs from crowd-pleasing guitarist Tom Morello, the militia shout-raps that made D a hip-hop legend in the ’80s. That’s verbatim: Chuck D’s opening verse is from the 1988 song by the same name. Then B-Real shows up with a mere eight measures of lane-clearing protest raps.

The jam almost works.

Ultimately the band’s self-titled single tinkers without the fresh angst of the respective members’ original bands and wobbles under close examination like the elasticity of its Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque slap-funk bass. The sirens are a neat touch.

The timing of the track is beneficial for its change-oriented aims, as the Prophets took to Cleveland—site of the Republican National Convention—on Monday for an opening-day concert. (Rage did this at the Democratic National Convention 16 years ago in Los Angeles.) 

Performing at the Rally for Poverty, the band churned through a soulful 30-minute set laden with warm, familiarly chunky riffs and fist-led choruses. Then they did it again a few hours later at Cleveland Public Square—four-tenths of a mile from the RNC, as Rolling Stone points out.

The gang also performs Tuesday at the Agora Ballroom.

Let’s hope the upcoming EP blasts just as hard.

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*First Published: Jul 19, 2016, 2:09 pm CDT