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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.
Ramon Ramirez is the news director, and formerly the Dot's entertainment editor and evening editor. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Grantland, Washington City Paper, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Monitor.