How do we take the power back? Music may be the answer.
Music can serve as a catalyst for change. The Beatles and the Vietnam war. Bob Dylan and the Civil Rights Movement. Sixto Rodriguez and Apartheid-South Africa. Prophets of Rage and the 2016 Election? Could be. This is an election the likes of which we have never seen.
Prophets of Rage, a recently formed supergroup made of members from Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, and Rage Against the Machine, will “Make America Rage Again” in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention in July.
Guitarist Tom Morello has said, “We have a venue and there may be venues that will be spontaneous venues, it’s hard to say. This is the kind of thing you don’t broadcast to the local authorities prior to arrival.”
That’s right, it’s a form of protest. “We’ll be rocking furiously in and around the RNC,” Morello said.
In fact, Rage Against the Machine reunited in St. Paul, Minnesota to play a free protest concert against the 2008 RNC. That didn’t go well. Riot policed denied their right to play citing lack of permits, even though Morello claims all permits were arranged. “We were there right on time to play and they physically barred us from getting onto the stage because they were afraid of the music we were going to play,” the guitarist said. They walked into the crowd anyway and played two of their popular songs including “Killing in the Name” a cappella with megaphones. The very next day, the second day of the RNC, the band played a concert in Minneapolis. They shocked the crowd when opening the show by silently standing on stage dressed in orange Guantanamo Bay jumpsuits with black bags over their heads. A demonstration was taken to the streets after the show where over 100 people were arrested by riot police.
Speaking about how music can spur change, Morello said, “My view is that progressive, radical change always comes from below, not above. So even if you stake all of your hopes for your and your family on hope, well sometimes that doesn’t work out. If you stake it on the xenophobic, fear-based racism, that’s not gonna work out either.”
“The underlying problems are systemic,” he continued. “The songs that we’ve been writing about for decades attack the system, not the individual candidates. How people change the world, it starts around people’s kitchen tables, it starts in their classrooms, it starts wherever people talk about making a world we want to one day see.”
— Prophets of Rage (@prophetsofrage) May 31, 2016
Will Prophets of Rage spur the change that so many seem to be looking for this election year? Well here is what Morello thinks about the supergroup’s relevancy.
“It’s my contention that we can no longer stand on the sidelines of history. Dangerous times demand dangerous songs,” Morello said. “Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are both constantly referred to in the media as raging against the machine. We’ve come back to remind everyone what raging against the machine really means.”
Given their event slogan, “Make America Rage Again,” one can only imagine what kind of message they may have for Republican Nominee Donald Trump.