Update 5/19: Our predictions were correct – the article has been updated with more current info.
Rage Against The Machine dissolved in acrimony far too damn early. Imploding just before Bush the Second arrived, their core value point – modernizing the incendiary potential of the protest song – halted before 9/11 took the band’s plight from an urgent slap across a comatose face to a potential smartbomb of desperate demand for truth and justice. What we have in their place are smaller fires of discontent and informed dissent, such as the cerebrally ferocious lyricism of UK spitfire queen Kate Tempest. But to this day, their absence is a presence we can feel – a musical fist in the air which has not been replaced.
Rampant rumor-mill churning commenced after giant posters have popped up throughout Los Angeles directing people to a website called “Prophets of Rage”. The site had been crashing all morning on Wednesday due to traffic demand, as fans wonder, with cautious hope, what might be coming.
A countdown clock on the site runs out on June 1st, while an email sign-up option is available. Once entered, you receive a message saying “Clear the way for the Prophets of Rage. The party’s over summer 2016.”
Alright, speculation on the rise. Then this happened:
For those loosely versed in protest music, “Prophets of Rage” is a public enemy track (and documentary), which is fascinating in itself. But when you add the fact that Chuck D has been tweeting live videos of Rage Against The Machine recently, as well as further cryptic social media involvement from Cypress Hill’s Twitter account, it leads further down the rabbit hole.
Prediction Confirmed: Rage Against The Machine is returning, with Chuck D of Public Enemy on vocals, as well as B-Real of Cypress Hill.
The most viciously sharp sociopolitical lyricist of all time, Zack De La Rocha has been all but a ghost since Rage’s last album over 15 years ago, excluding a few guest spots and a one-stop EP with The Mars Volta’s Jon Theodore as One Day As a Lion back in 2008 (but a full album was recorded, where the hell is it?). Whether with Rage, One Day as a Lion or on his own, ZDLR has been sorely – no, desperately – missed in the modern age of unchecked corruption in politics, surveillance, law enforcement and capitalism, as confused complacency and warmly encouraged inertia fill the void of informed defiance.
Couchbound clicktivism doesn’t mean shit if the kinetic activism isn’t there to support it. The majority of America has no idea how many wars we’re in, and would likely stutter themselves out of the room if tasked with pointing out half the countries we’re bombing on a map. Our political systems are more flagrantly in the pockets of corporate interests than ever before, and our presidential candidate choices are, at best, a corruption crapshoot. A blizzard of misinformation completely clogs the pipelines of truth, creating a culture of vaguely informed populace intensely arguing distraction-bait minutia on social media, and tuning out of the effort after making their soapbox claims, on to the next clickbait cause. Has there ever been a time where we’ve needed the fire of truth and defiance to burn brighter?
We are still badly in need of the awareness megaphone that was Rage Against the Machine. And while it isn’t Rage without ZDLR, we’re in for a serious dose of sociopolitical fire when the new group takes the stage, performing tracks from all three bands: Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill.