Prophets of Rage
In the shadow of a presidential election between two candidates that a large portion of the country doesn't like, America needs powerful and intelligent political music now more than ever. Thankfully, the masterminds behind Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill have teamed up to bring us Prophets of Rage, who spread their message of change and unrest to a packed crowd at the Forum in Inglewood on Thursday night.
After a heartfelt introduction of "the best fucking band" by activist Mary Morello (who also happens to be guitarist Tom Morello's 92-year-old mom), the band immediately began their set with the Public Enemy track they were named after to warm the excited crowd for the trip back in time they were about to take. But it wasn't until the six-piece followed up with Rage Against the Machine's "Guerrilla Radio" and "Bombtrack" that much of the audience really lost their '90s-loving minds.
For those who aren't familiar with America's new favorite supergroup, it's essentially a three-headed beast of Morello's legendary guitar licks alongside the iconic rapping of Chuck D (Public Enemy) and B-Real (Cypress Hill). Of course, the entire thing is backed by the pounding rhythm section of drummer Brad Wilk and bassist Tim Commerford (both also from Rage Against the Machine) and DJ Lord on the turntables (Public Enemy).
As the group fuses the music of Audioslave's "Cochise" with the lyrics of Public Enemy's "She Watch Channel Zero," it becomes crystal clear that Prophets of Rage aren't just here to make you feel nostalgic with cover songs. Bouncing from "People of the Sun" to "Miuzi Weighs a Ton" to "How I Could Just Kill a Man" proved that all six members were capable of performing songs from all three original groups and sound arguably better than any of them did 20 years ago.
The biggest concern for most fans going into it was whether B-Real and Chuck D could make up for the lack of Rage Against the Machine's notable frontman, Zack de la Rocha. In nailing classic RATM tracks like "Take the Power Back" and "Testify" before the rest of the instrumentalists briefly left the stage, the legendary duo demonstrated just how perfectly B-Real's aggressive style of rapping and the enraged energy of Chuck D could more than cover for the original vocalist on even the toughest of songs.
With only DJ Lord backing them, the two hip-hop stars dropped from the stage to perform a medley of their own songs on, in, and right in front of the audience. From Cypress Hill's "Hand on the Pump" and "Insane in the Brain" to Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise" and "Welcome to the Terrordome," the rap intermission was a '90s hip-hop fan's wet dream. To close that portion of the set out, the rappers even busted out some of "Jump Around" by B-Real's associates, House of Pain.
After causing three separate mosh pits across the Forum's historic floor with "Sleep Now in the Fire" and "Bullet in the Head," Morello came to the microphone to spread the gospel of Rage for the first time that night. Over the course of his speech, the guitar virtuoso — who frequently showed over the course of the night why many consider him the most innovative musician of the last 25 years — explained that LA is the home of Prophets of Rage even if it's not the native hometown of everyone in the band and that the world wouldn't become a better place without people making a difference. He then mentioned that a portion of the proceeds would go to People Assisting the Homeless and that the crowd should donate if they could, because he knew there were "some rich sons of bitches in the house tonight."
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Donning the same red "Make America Rage Again" hat that much of the audience was wearing, Morello stepped away from the microphone to begin "Shut Em Down" and "Know Your Enemy" before dropping the second official Prophets of Rage song of the night with "The Party's Over." The Beastie Boys-based "No Sleep Til LA" (which was originally Cleveland, for their Republican National Convention protest show) and a crowd-thrilling version of "Bulls on Parade" brought the show to its penultimate stopping point of the night.
When Morello mentioned that the band was about to bring an old friend on stage, the Forum was buzzing with almost enough excitement to bring the old "Showtime" Lakers out of retirement. Could this be the moment when Rage Against the Machine reunites in front of everyone? Could the special guest actually be Zack de la Rocha like so many fans had dreamed?
Nope. It was just good ol' Dave Grohl, who played guitar and sang on MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" before the original six members ended the evening with "Killing in the Name" and one last appreciative speech to the crowd and everyone involved.
Prophets of Rage
Cochise/She Watch Channel Zero
People of the Sun
Miuzi Weighs a Ton
How I Could Just Kill a Man
Take the Power Back
Hand on the Pump
Can't Truss It
Insane in the Brain
Bring the Noise
I Ain't Goin' Out Like That
Welcome to the Terrordome
Sleep Now in the Fire
Bullet in the Head
Shut Em Down
Know Your Enemy
The Party's Over
No Sleep Til LA
Bulls on Parade
Kick Out the Jams
Killing in the Name