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Six More Public Enemy Songs Prophets of Rage Should Play Live

PeRage
Public Enemy / Prophets of Rage

The set lists from the first three shows by Prophets of Rage, the politically minded supergroup featuring three-quarters of Rage Against the Machine fronted by Public Enemy‘s Chuck D and Cypress Hill‘s B-Real, have so far been largely dominated by Rage Against the Machine songs. Which, as lifelong PE fans, seems a bit off to us.

According to Setlist.fm, the group’s June 5 show in Brooklyn featured 10 full Rage songs and one original new track, against just three PE entries and two Cypress Hill numbers. (There was also a mid-show medley, performed without the RATM members, consisting of short bursts of three classics each from Public Enemy and Cypress Hill.)

Of course, we’re still excited for the group’s summer Make America Rage Again tour. But if we can get greedy, it would be great to hear drummer Brad Wilk, bassist Tim Commerford and Tom Morello (probably the most inventive rock guitarist of the past two decades), work together with their new bandmate, PE’s DJ Lord, to figure out live instrument-based versions of more Public Enemy songs – which, after all, are some of the most sonically innovative and politically insightful tracks in recent music history. Here’s six strong suggestions:


“Brothers Gonna Work it Out”

From: ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ (1990)

 

 

This highly motivational opening track from Public Enemy’s third album has a bit more swing than Rage’s pummeling rhythm section usually delivers. But we’re guessing it would sound pretty great muscled up, too. Most importantly, we’d love to hear how Morello handles the Prince “Let’s Go Crazy” guitar solo sample which features so prominently in the original version.

 

“She Watch Channel Zero?!”

From: ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ (1988)

 

 

This one wouldn’t require a whole lot of change musically: It’s already built on a dizzyingly heavy metal guitar riff. Lyrically, it might be about time for Chuck D to modify his otherwise more-relevant-than-ever attack on the numbing effects of mass media just enough to admit that men waste their time watching a bunch of crappy TV, too.

 

“What Side You On?”

From: ‘Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age’ (1994)

 

 

Public Enemy undeservedly lost a lot of fans with the release of their misunderstood fifth album, which dialed back their usual dense blend of samples in favor of more live instrumentation. That recipe, of course, is the same one Prophets of Rage are currently using, making them the perfect outfit to send live crowds into a frenzy with this rousing call-and-response chorus.

 

“Night of the Living Baseheads”

From: ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ (1988)

 

 

How is this not already happening? Do I really have to say anything here? We can start a Kickstarter campaign to hire you the world’s most hyperactive horn section, if that’s the problem.

 

“You’re Gonna Get Yours”

From: ‘Yo! Bum Rush the Show’ (1987)

 

 

Morello describes Prophets of Rage as an “elite task force of revolutionary musicians determined to confront this mountain of election year bullshit.” So, of course, they are primarily concerned with political issues. But thinking of Rage’s resident guitar wizard tackling the main riff and incredible Terminator X scratching featured on this early PE classic makes us hope they can find the time to let Chuck brag about his old car for a few minutes.

 

“54321….Boom”

From: ‘Revolverlution’ (2002)

 

 

Granted, there’s not a whole lot for Morello to do on this obscure, somewhat skeletal late-era PE treasure. But we’ve had him do the heavy lifting on most of the other tracks, so we can let the Wilk / Commerford duo take over while the Rhyme Animal proves he’s still got the most commanding voice in rap history.

 

BONUS: Artists Indebted to Rage Against the Machine

 

 
 

Cover Stories: Rage Against the Machine’s Self-Titled Debut

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