Published Sep 14, 2017Prophets of Rage is Tim Commerford, Tom Morello and Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine, DJ Lord and Chuck D of Public Enemy and B-Real of Cypress Hill. They formed last year in response to the heated political situation in the U.S. Who's in it and what they're about is exciting; the music, though, is decent but not mind-blowing.
Zach De La Rocha's more aggressive, hardcore-influenced style suited the "Rage" sound incredibly well, Chuck D's bullish baritone and B-Real's nasal sniping contrast each other nicely, and hearing Tom Morello play demented funk-metal riffs again is sweet. It's no RATM, but we can work with this.
Unfortunately, the song lyrics can be ruinously bad. The titular pun in "Radical Eyes" is on the high school level of "real eyes realize real lies," and the lyric "I'm Rage-ified" doesn't help. That said, "Unfuck the World" is much easier to get behind, with anthemic, straightforward lyrics about racism and poverty.
The more topically specific songs walk a line between accessibility and on-the-nose-ness. "Legalize Me" is clearly pro-weed legalization, but offers hardly more detail or meaning than a bumper sticker would. "Living on the 110" does a slightly better job as it humanizes the homeless and criticizes mainstream culture with lyrics like, "a ghost you're seeing, left behind by the system."
Corny super group-nostalgia act trying to live up to the untouchable legacy of the members' previous bands? Or timely, and much-needed visceral response to trying times? It depends on your outlook. Prophets of Rage might not be the rap-rock group we need, but maybe they're the one we deserve. (Fantasy Records)