Forget Justice League. Forget Suicide Squad. Forget The Avengers. Here in the real world, there’s only one super group that really matters, and their weapon of choice is a Marshall stack.
Prophets Of Rage represent an unholy alliance between some of the wildest rebels in rock and rap history, combining the musical might of Rage Against The Machine‘s Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk, Public Enemy’s Chuck D & DJ Lord and Cypress Hill‘s B-Real, and they’re on a mission to change the world, one moshpit at a time.
After awaking like a sleeping giant in 2016, the politically-charged rap-metal super squad are finally making their way to Australia this week for the first time ever, to play a monster set at the inaugural Download Festival Melbourne plus two huge sideshows in Brisbane and Sydney with Dead Letter Circus. And they won’t just be armed with the arsenal of monster hits that each of their respective bands has released over the past three decades, but a freshly-smelted LP of all-original fire.
So to celebrate what we know is going to be an absolutely face-melting live show, we thought we’d salute this mega-mob of musical legends by remembering some of the historic moments when they raised two middle fingers squarely in the direction of The Man, broke all the rules — and occasionally our hearts — over the course of three decades of rock n’ roll badassery.
Here’s 7 times Prophets Of Rage members were the heroes we, the world, needed.
1. Rage Against The Machine Tell The BBC ‘Fuck You I Won’t Do What You Tell Me’
In 2009, RATM played ‘Killing In The Name’ live on the BBC Radio 5 primetime brekky show in the midst of a successful internet campaign to boost the single to Number #1 on the UK Christmas Charts, which had traditionally been dominated by X-Factor winners (vomit). Despite being asked not to sing the final refrain of “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”, they (naturally) sang it anyway.
BBC cut the song about four “fucks” in but the damage had already been done. The red-faced station was forced to apologise for offending the entire country with RATM’s furious f-bombs.
2. Cypress Hill get banned from SNL
Taking a leaf out of Rage Against The Machine’s book, Cypress Hill said a proverbial “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” when the head honchos at Saturday Night Live told them they couldn’t smoke weed during their 1993 live performance. As they launched into their freshly rolled tune ‘I Ain’t Going Out Like That’, DJ Muggs announced: “Yo, New York City, they said I couldn’t light my joint, you know what I’m saying? Well, we ain’t going out like that!” And with that, he proceeded to 420-blaze up a storm as his bandmates laid waste to the stage.
The group became the first in hip-hop to cop a lifetime ban from SNL over the stunt, but we bet it didn’t kill their high. They stood up for what they believed in and created a legendary musical moment on live TV in the process. Rock n’ roll defiance at its best.
3. Tim Commerford gets arrested at the 2000 VMAs
The RATM string-slapper infamously pulled a Kanye West (before pulling a Kanye West was even a thing) during Limp Bizkit’s acceptance speech for the ‘Best Rock Video’ gong at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. After Fred Durst & company’s ‘Break Stuff’ beat out Rage’s ‘Sleep Now in the Fire’ for the trophy, Commerford crashed the stage, scaled a 20-foot palm tree like some form of heavy metal King Kong and straight-up refused to budge.
The stunt caused an insane amount of controversy at the time, seeing Commerford arrested for disorderly conduct and forced to spend a night in the slammer, but it’s also gone down in the annals of rock history as a masterclass in how to not take any shit, especially from a bunch of limp bickies.
4. Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’ soundtracks Do The Right Thing
Public Enemy’s incendiary war cry against oppression became truly iconic when visionary director Spike Lee blasted it in its entirety over the opening credits of his gamechanging film about simmering racial tensions in 1980’s New York City, Do The Right Thing. The fist-in-the-air anthem (which still graces the live setlists of Prophets Of Rage to this day) became synonymous with empowering a new generation of Black youth in America, immortalised in the character of Radio Raheem as he strutted down the streets of Brooklyn blasting the track from his boombox as a form of
silent LOUD AF protest.
5. ‘Killing In The Name’ live at Woodstock ’99
RATM’s live rendition of their fiery cuss-fuelled middle-finger-in-the-air banger (which incidentally also came in at #2 in triple J‘s Hottest 100 Of All Time back in 2009) became the aggressive musical catharsis of a truly disastrous festival. Promoters packed 200,000 dehydrated punters into an old Air Force base during a scorching hot weekend, selling bottled water at the insane price of US$4, with little tap water and hardly any toilets, so needless to say the Woodstock ’99 audience were fucking pissed off and ready to erupt by the time RATM hit the stage. As it happened, the band weren’t too happy with the festival or the Powers That Be either, and in a historic act of defiance that encapsulated the communal feeling of frustration and fury, Rage torched the US flag live on stage while thousands of fans chanted along to ‘Killing In The Name’. It wasn’t the last fire of the weekend, but it was certainly the most memorable.
6. Prophets of Rage’s Chris Cornell tribute
Hearts shattered across the globe following news of grunge legend Chris Cornell’s tragic death last year. And while the Soundgarden frontman’s loss inspired countless high profile live musical tributes at the time, none hit us in the feels quite the one delivered by his Audioslave bandmate Tom Morello alongside the Prophets Of Rage. In a heavily symbolic move, the band left the microphone stand empty as they performed Audioslave’s sombre 2002 ballad ‘Like A Stone’, with the crowd singing all the words in Cornell’s place.
So. Fucking. Powerful.
7. Tom Morello schools a Trump-supporting troll
This poor ignorant hater picked the wrong man to tussle with when he decided to have a dig at RATM’s legendary riff machine for criticising US President Donald Trump. Morello responded with a burn so fire that the entire internet needed to apply ice for days. His mic drop-worthy retort went all kinds of viral, projecting his name into the mouths of people who had no idea what a Rage Against The Machine even was. Keyboard warrior TKO. Morello delivered a clinic in how to shut down a troll.
Prophets Of Rage 2018 Download Festival Australia Sideshows
Thursday, 22nd March
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Supported by Dead Letter Circus and Bare Bones
Tickets: Live Nation
Monday, 26th March — NEW VENUE
The Tivoli, Brisbane
Supported by Dead Letter Circus
Tickets: Live Nation
Also performing at Download Festival Melbourne 2018