In their debut album, Rap-Rock supergroup Prophets of Rage plays it safe and stick to their roots.
So Chuck D from Public Enemy, B Real from Cypress Hill, and 3/4 of Rage Against the Machine walk into a recording studio… This would have been a late 90’s teenager’s dream. You’d think that the smooth booming delivery of Chuck D, coupled with the unique nasally vocals of B Real, would be a perfect compliment to the aggressively groovy instrumentals of Rage Against the Machine. Instead of being a mixture of the parts, Prophets of Rage often sounds like Rage Against the Machine featuring Chuck D and B Real.
Lets first start with the positives of this album.
If you are a Rage Against the Machine fan, you will love the instrumentals on Prophets of Rage. Almost every track on this album sounded as it belongs in the first three Rage Against the Machine Albums. The riffs are just as groovy and aggressive, the drums sound pack just as much of a punch, and Tom Morello’s guitar still makes those iconic experimental sounds. Tracks like “Radical Eyes”, “Hail To The Chief”, and “Hands Up” are some of the best examples of this.
The production on Prophets of Rage is another positive. As Tom Morello told Rolling Stone, “We’re an elite task force of revolutionary musicians determined to confront this mountain of election year bullsh*t, and confront it head-on with the Marshall stacks blazing”, and thats exactly what it sounds like. This album was made to sound like a Rage Against the Machine album, and it did a great job. The instrumentals sound as in your face as possible. Even the lyrical content, from criticizing government use of drones in “Take Me Higher” to the broader social issue of homelessness in “Living On The 110”, are very reminiscent of Rage Against the Machine.
The similarity with Rage Against the Machine is my biggest criticism of Prophets of Rage.
Prophets of Rage sounds too much like Chuck D and B Real replacing Zack De La Rocha in Rage Against the Machine. It seems to work more often than not, but there are moments where Chuck D’s smooth delivery sounds dull in the context of the instrumental track, most notably in “Smash*t”. B Real also seems to try too hard to sound like Zack, instead of himself (particularly in “Unf*ck The World”).
Overall, this is a solid project.
When a supergroup forms, all the members typically add their unique styles to the mixture like Velvet Revolver, Cream, and Audioslave. Prophets of Rage just sounded like Rage Against the Machine with Chuck D and B Real replacing Zack De La Rocha. This does not make the album bad or even mediocre, but it doesn’t make the album great either. I love all these artists individually, but listening to Prophets of Rage really just makes me miss Zack De La Rocha’s presence in the band.
Best Tracks: “Unf*ck The World”, “Living On The 110”, and “Hands Up”
Worst Track: “Legalize Me”