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Prophets of Rage
Due to an alert of “severe thunderstorms,” Governor’s Ball Day 3 – the day that acts like Gary Clark Jr, Vic Mensa, Eagles of Death Metal, Chvrches, and headliner Kanye West, on his first US The Life of Pablo show, were meant to play – was cancelled. For whatever reason the weather service got it wrong, and NYC only saw a few light showers and a gorgeous double rainbow on Sunday evening.
We saw this rainbow heading into Warsaw in Brooklyn just before 8pm, having snagged tickets to the show Prophets of Rage put on in place of their “special guest” slot on the Gov Ball line-up. They’d been announced the day before as the act that would fill the half-hour slot on the schedule. Not content with the cancellation, POA – the supergroup that debuted in LA this past week – posted on Twitter that they’d play the Brooklyn venue at a special price for wristband-wearers, with proceeds going to charity, Why Hunger.
The show was 3 times the length it would have been at Governor’s Ball. Or governors’ balls, as Chuck D put it, giving the middle finger to “the fucking prison industry.” We, and Chris Rock, who was also in the audience (albeit in the balcony, “VIP” section), are all the better for it. To witness the force of Public Enemy, Cypress Hill and Rage Against the Machine come together is power. That it was for more than just half an hour makes me want to thank the weather service for being so bad at predicting forecasts.
Credentials undisputed, on their own each of these groups is mighty, especially Public Enemy and the political and social consciousness they brought through hip-hop to the world. But putting Chuck D and DJ Lord together on a stage with Cypress Hill’s B.Real and RATM, minus Zack de La Rocha (who is said to be working on his own long-awaited solo album), is like capturing the spirit of a time gone by that’s still necessary and needed now.
There was no mud. No rain. No Kanye at this show. Only fire and sweat. And energy. Unabashed energy. The kind that’s needed at a point in history where Donald Trump has basically all but secured the Republican presidential nomination vote. But it’s not just Trump POR is raging against – even though they dedicated Know Your Enemy to him – they don’t believe any of the wannabe presidents represent the views of the public.
POR is anti-establishment, yes, but anti-apathy too. Their manifesto is in the sweat that flew from Tom’s Make America Rage Again cap every time he swung his head. It’s the reason Chuck D’s pants were rolled up to his knees, as he swirled his mic around, like he was mixing their collective ethos together into something swell. Recalling tracks like Bring the Noise, Take the Power Back and I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That, they advocate for taking a stand, damn it. It’s a do-care attitude that not just America could benefit from right now – more than likely it’s global warming that probably caused the messed-up weather forecast in the first place.
Those big bass-lines of Bulls on Parade and Rap/Rock Superstar teenage Nadia and so many others grew up listening to have a place in the world right now. Certainly the lyrics these groups penned are always worth hearing again. Mash them up together, and they’re all the more potent.
The [American] dream is far roaming in the streets of greed.
Now I got no patience. So sick of complacence.
Fight the power.
Shout-out to the Bob Dylan vinyl-toting 18-year-olds I met in line for the show.
Maybe we really are going to be alright.