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.