Some of those who work forces/

are the same that burn crosses/

Some of those who work forces/

are the same that burn crosses/

Some of those who work forces/

are the same that burn crosses/

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!


(Killing in the Name)

“Rage against the Machine“ was founded in 1991 in Los Angeles, California.

Though never initiated into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, they are seen as on the biggest bands of the 90s and 2000s, not only because of their their merger of rap-style lyrics and hardcore-influenced rock music. 

What always made them stand out was their openly presented political stance, which was omnipresent in all of their works.

Consisting of the current line-up of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Tom Morello, drummer Brad Wilk and bassist Tim Commerford the band released their self-titled debut, which included songs such as “Killing in the Name“ and “Bombtrack“ in 1992. It reached triple platinum, despite the open left-wing political views, their album cover featuring the shocking world-famous photo of a Buddhist monk burning himself to death or the iconic face of revolutionary Che Guevara on the cover of their single “Bombtrack.“ Or maybe even because of that…

The music video for said song featured the band performing in a cage intercut with archive footage of Peruvian Maoist terrorist Abimael Guzman and his organization The Shining Path.

De la Rocha, who is of Mexican-American descent, once said that he sees the band as a vehicle for their social activism and beliefs. The band has also always vocally supported the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation), a “guerrilla army who represents the poor indigenous communities on the lowest-form of the social ladder, which through an uprising n 1994 gained control over the region of Chiapas, Mexico“. The band took trips to meet with their leader, featured their flag’s star in their graphics and included interviews with their leaders on their DVDs.

So now I’m rolling down Rodeo with a shotgun/

These people ain’t seen a brown skin man/

Since their grandparents bought one/

(Down Rodeo)

Their second album “Evil Empire“ hit the stores in 1996. Before releasing the LP they teased it with a special 7“ vinyl release  only send out to members of their fan club. Included was a live version of their cover of “Fuck the Police“ by N.W.A., recorded at a benefit concert for incarcerated

Black Panther activist Mumia Abu Jamal. “Down Rodeo“, the third single, was inspired by the 1992 Rodney King Riots that took place in their hometown of Los Angeles.

Just as their predecessor the album was a huge success, debuting at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts and achieving triple platinum.

It has to start somewhere

It has to start sometime

What better place than here?

What better place than now?

(Guerilla Radio)

Three years went by until they released their third studio album “Battle of Los Angeles“ in 1999. The title was a reference to the “Battle of Seattle“, the protests against the 1999 World Trade Organization Conference.

The second single “Sleep now in the Fire“ was released with an accompanying music video by director Michael Moore, who would later on gain international acclaim for his documentaries “Bowling for Columbine“ about the Columbine High School Massacre or “Fahrenheit 9/11“.

The music video was filmed in front of the New York Stock Exchange at Wall Street with the band performing in front of hundreds of onlookers. The only direction by Moore was “No matter what happens, don’t stop playing“. It ended up with Moore being handcuffed by police. 

The clip opens with a photo of then mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani and among the crowd of onlookers you can see a man holding a “Donald Trump for President“ sign. Very foreshadowing.

Included are also scenes of a “Who wants to be a Millionaire“-type gameshow. The questions asked are not your typical trivia, but more something like “How many Americans have no Health Care – 45mio / a few old people“ or “Women make… – 30% less money than men / Babies“. 

Only one year later they decided to release a cover album named “Renegades“. Their covers included songs by Bob Dylan, EPMD, Minor Threat, The Rolling Stones, Cypress Hill and many other musicians favored by the band.

The video clip for the Afrika Bambaataa cover song “Renegades of Funk” is a montage of funk and hip hop musicians intercut with brief cuts of the civil rights movement. 

In the video mentioned “renegades“ include: Chief Sitting Bull, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Richard Prior, Gil-Scott Heron, Pariament Funkadelic, DJ Kool Herc, Che Guevara, Nat Turner, Huey Newton, Mumia Abu Jamal, Leonard Peltier, LL Cool J. A clear display of the musical roots of the band.

After an incident at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, wherein Commerford stormed the stage, de la Rocha decided to leave the band. There were plans of B-Real, the lead rapper of legendary rap group Cypress Hill, stepping in to become the new RATM frontman, but that never came to fruition. 

Soon after Morello, Wilk and Commerford continued playing together and recruited singer Chris Cornell of Soundgarden to form their new band – Audioslave.

A year later the world had entered the George W. Bush-era with the Twin Towers gone and the “War on Terror“ on the rise. Political music was not that well-received, so all of Rage against the Machine’s songs were banned from radio-play. Morello started a solo career after his success with Audioslave and de la Rocha has been steadily working with musicians like DJ Shadow, The Roots and Trent Reznor, but unfortunately without releasing an album so far. Over the years they played several festivals and tours, but did not release any albums since 2000’s “Renegades“.

Their whole career they never felt shy of giving respect to all the musicians they were influenced by coming from the fields of hip hop, punk rock and crossover. They have been labeled rap metal, rap rock and alternative rock, but the description that best suits them being “a molotov cocktail of fiercely polemical rock, hip hop and trash music, sloganeering leftist rants against corporate America, cultural imperialism and government oppression“. And their music sounds damn good as well.