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Rap-rock relics "Rage" against ... something

Fantasy Records
Prophets of Rage's self-titled album.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Prophets of Rage - Prophets of Rage (Fantasy / Caroline) 2017

While I have always admired, in my heart of hearts, what the band Rage Against the Machine stood for, for the most part, I found their music cacophonous noise at best, a rancid nü-metal sound that might have thematically replaced “doin’ it all for the nookie” with “George Bush stole my cookie,” but still failing to reach all the right people who actually needed to hear the message.  Because, well, that just ain’t their scene, hoss.

Rage guitarist Tom Morello, along with bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk make up the backbone of these Flamethrowin’ Wilburys, an aggro supergroup with a little help from Public Enemy’s once-relevant Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real, who apparently still hasn’t gone out like “that” to form a political powerload of sorts to help jump-start the revolution—non-violent, of course—through the “power of music.”

The result is the Prophets of Rage and this is their self-titled album, a one-off conversation piece that, in this 24 hour news cycle of scrolling immediacy, this needlessly loud, unlikably nü-metal throwback is almost immediately obsolete and past the point of freshness sonically, but, even worse, it feels completely sanitized for my protection; there’s no ganas to the glory, with a take on the issues of the day that  is about as politically deep as the scribblings on a middle schooler's Trapper Keeper.

Insert badly-drawn marijuana leaf here.

Especially in the light of so many recent tragedies, from the rash of hurricanes to racial and class unrest in our communities, all continually stoked by the 140-character rambles and global provocation from our quote-unquote President, even well-meaning songs of honest dissent like “Unfuck the World” and “Hail to the Chief” have already been eclipsed by far more pressing matters that continue to escalate faster than a band can write, record, press and sell a song about them.

Even worse, the Prophets’ lyrics seem to lack a metaphorical suicide bomber’s will to come out and say what truly needs to be done to achieve a punk-rock revolution, instead clinging to the same platitudes and attitudes most modern political music relishes in, politically riling up the listener without truly offering any helpful solutions on where to direct that anger outside of buying the band’s merchandise.

B-Real takes the mic to pop off a few shots about legalizing weed, of course, in the apropos “Legalize  It” and, most dishearteningly, Chuck D’s safe targeting on subjects like drones and Ronald Reagan; even his hot takes on the killer cops and Black Lives Matter feel reheated at best, especially coming in after such superior recent digs on the subject by Ice-T’s Body Count (“No Lives Matter”) and Ice Cube’s newly recorded bonus track “Good Cop, Bad Cop” for the Death Certificate 25th Anniversary reissue.

They say that in times of political strife and general oppression some of the best art is made; in the case of this Prophets of Rage project, apparently so are the best quick cash-grabs. Perfectly timed to masquerade as a hard-bitten political tirade rather than the unlikable soundtrack to quick-draw teenage angst that it really is, I have a prediction these Prophets and this album will slide into the $3.99 cut-out bin of obscurity.

You’d do better to just stick in that old cassette of PE’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and call it day.

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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