Chuck D and B-Real Are Making America Rage Again
TRNN Producer Kim Brown speaks with the members of the recently formed political music group Prophets of Rage
KIM BROWN, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network I’m Kim Brown.
We are on location, Fairfax, Virginia at the Eagle Bank Arena for the Profits of Rage show. I am so honored to be sitting next to two of the members of Prophets of Rage but you know them from other groups as well. This is Chuck D from Public Enemy. Chuck thank you so much for speaking with us.
CHUCK D: Always good to be with Real News and be real news.
BROWN: And we could call it the Be Real News. B-Real from Cypress Hill. Hello sir, how are you?
B-REAL: Thank you, it’s very real.
BROWN: It’s full of realness in here right now and fellas, you guys are performing tonight here in the DC area for the Prophets of Rage show. Prophets of Rage made up of B-Real from Cypress Hill, Public Enemy with Chuck D and Dj Lord, and members of Rage Against the Machine, including Tom Morello. How did this collaboration come to fruition Chuck?
CHUCK D: Well it was an idea that was floating around in Tom’s mind. A super collaborative set of musicians and this was the music part of it. And then with this year actually emerging and candidates running and using Rage Against the Machine, from Paul Ryan to even in the Trump campaign. Tom Morello just got sparked and he said no, no. So he reached out to me and we formed some conversations about it. I was already on a tour last winter time. He also reapproached me after the tour.
One thing led to another, we got together, we was doing some things. I brought Dj Lord in to make it different. I made it clear that it wasn’t going to be like Rage Against the Machine 2, but let’s do some things. Then the minute that the maestro over there, his name came up then it was like woah this is yea wow. If he agrees man this thing is a thing. And it was wonderful on paper and once B-Real agreed it was like okay this is it and this is what they’re still saying about raging against the machine as far as a politics was concerned. Organically we all got together, put it together and from that point it zoomed almost like a locomotive that ran off underneath you and you had no control of the speed so. From that point on it became a reality and we faced that challenge and made it a reality and here we are.
BROWN: B, when you got the call from Chuck and Tom what was the first thing that crossed your mind?
B-REAL: Well you know I had heard from a mutual friend what was going on but I couldn’t believe it. I was like yea we’ll see. We’ll see if they call. You know I got a text from Brad and then a call from Tom and he gave me the idea on what they wanted to do and I was like all in right at the top.
You know for me to be able to rock with Chuck on stage and Tom, Tim, and Brad, as an artist that’s, it’s a big deal. It’s like a wish list. Okay who could I be rocking with? And we’ve all talked about working together in some form or fashion throughout the years that we’ve known each other so when I got the call it was kind of surreal. Like hearing about it through a third party and actually getting the call, it was pretty exciting. When we got to the first rehearsals there was a little bit of nervous anxiety like can we really live up to this music because it’s very powerful and Chuck and my, in our role we had to learn Zack’s words and cadence and make sure that it was just as powerful and on the money with the music so that the people reconnect with it and it was a challenge for me and I love challenges so I embraced it and the fact that I got to do it with these guys, it put it over the top for me. I was excited and very happy when I got the call for sure.
BROWN: So the collective discography of Public Enemy, of Cypress Hill, of Rage Against the Machine is chalk full of music that certainly never shied away from social and political issues. So I’m curious, how did you come up and formulate your set list for when you go out there and do the live performances like who’s songs are getting done here? Everybody’s? Some of this, some of that? How does this work?
B-REAL: Yea it’s a combination, it’s like a pot of gumbo if you will. There’s Cypress Hill songs, there’s Public Enemy songs, there’s Rage Against the Machine songs. There’s songs that we’ve mashed up and there’s a couple of original songs in there. So it’s a little bit of all of our catalogue combined. And you know to Tom’s credit he masterminded the set list and you know we all have suggestions and we go over them and whatever works is what sticks. But for the most part, Tom has a pretty good idea of which direction the set list should go and it’s like a rollercoaster ride. If you don’t hold on tight you’re going to fall right off.
CHUCK D: Tom revealed to me yesterday that he collects set lists like baseball cards. So yesterday, I don’t know if you heard this B, yesterday he said that he’s so obsessive with set list that you know he would actually do like Zeppelin’s set lists from ’76 and just wrote the songs and say they could’ve did it better this way so that’s what we’re in store for and that’s pretty good to actually ride with that he’s obsessive about set lists. But really you know it takes somebody to micromanage that aspect and us to make it work and make it count. And we went through 5-6 months of rehearsals to get to this point. So none of this is automatic.
This ain’t karaoke. This is not B-Real and Chuck D replaces Zack de la Rocha. None of this. This is an organic situation where as if there was any block in the road to keep it from happening because it didn’t fit right it would happen already. We’re enjoying a ride and we have a mission. We have a statement that goes well beyond what happens here in the beltway past November. Because like I said earlier, we were already crisscrossing smashing arenas and stadiums across Europe getting ready for this tour. Even intertwining that with some show dates as we were preparing for this time.
BROWN: You know Chuck you talk about the formation of this band being organic but it feels really deliberate because of the times we find ourselves in right now. Not only is this an election season but there’s a lot of social upheaval happening in the United States that has not happened for some time and it seems as if they Prophets of Rage coming together on this tour this summer is speaking directly to that. B, what do you think?
B-REAL: I believe it is. It’s one of the main reasons that we formed this band was because there was no one else speaking to it on a huge platform. You know most bands that are trying to talk about what’s going on they’re pretty much pushed down to an underground level and they’re not getting any light on radio or anything like that because there’s no money in the message. That’s the big deal. You are not going to hear this type of music from other artist on the radio because perhaps their record companies don’t see the marketability of it. Whereas we don’t care about that.
We’ve had our successes in Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill. We’ve all done well for ourselves and our careers so this means something different for us. It gave us the platform to speak the mind of the people and how we feel about what’s going on right now. The injustices going on with the law enforcement. Just the overall fuckery going on in our political system, sorry about that. And just the state of the world right now, it’s crazy.
There’s lack of compassion. Most people if you see somebody on the street getting jumped by two and three people, most people are likely to film it instead of going and trying to help that person. You know all this stuff that we’re trying to do speaks to all this. The numbness that people have right now and the hopelessness because there’s nobody out there championing their cause or speaking for them. So we took it upon ourselves to be that. Take the flak along with you know the people that might applaud our efforts, there’s also going to be those that try to devalue what we’re trying to do here.
But we knew coming in that we were going to face some scrutiny and things like that. But it’s in all of our nature in all three of our individual bands that we don’t really care what people think outside. It’s about what we’re trying to do that’s important and we won’t let anything get in the way of that.
BROWN: You know your role as veterans not only in this game overall, like you just said gave y’all the platform to come out and do this right here. To speak to the protests, to the rebellion, to the uprisings that are happening. You know Chuck, so like when you guys are doing this music, music that is in some cases 20 years old, 25 plus years old and you’re seeing the reaction that people are giving you because they feel it right now in 2016 what does that say to you about the art that you made and how it still holds up very well so many years later?
CHUCK D: Well it’s a long time in music life but it’s a short time in real life. And the reality is if somebody 6 years, 20 years ago could be 26 with two kids and trying to figure out where there they live. There’s a homelessness issue here in the United States. It’s a screwed up in the area of medical and health care you know? It’s all totally out of bounds and off the charts when it talks about people have a job to pay their rent. You know you hear the talk about okay there’s no jobs. Jobs don’t just pop up, like okay.
I hear these stats; oh the United States seem like it’s a 13% increase on jobs. From where? You know? So you want to have communities to have a sense of themselves and not just be in plantation states for the people and this is where this comes in and where we come in. I don’t think a group that just came out of anywhere as young heads could actually answer a lot of this turmoil that’s coming systematically and have us just turn a switch to the demographic that’s out there now.
I think it maybe taken a combination of some experienced cats like us that have dealt on all levels of talking to people to understand that yea we’re bringing as they say, piss and vinegar to the table but we’re also bringing some wisdom and logic to know exactly how the fight is going to be taken or how we’re going to go about the fight. Which is a little different than if you’re coming in and just [ahhhhhh]. That was a different time. And it was easy to actually get people to bandwagon that. Now today people are distracted in a lot of different areas so to really get their attention which is currency today you got to really seriously have a blow that’s focus. And I just think every single member of this group has a focus that aligns up with my spirit. And it’s a spirit thing too. I feel each one of these brothers as we’re the same spirit and to make change and why not? As opposed to why, why not?
BROWN: Everything is pretty much focused on the presidential election obviously. Not the only election that’s happening, but it’s the one that people tend to give the most attention to and the most light given the clown show, for lack of a better term, that we’re seeing really on both sides. So your thoughts basically. What are your thoughts about election season 2016?
B-REAL: I mean this one is like you said. It’s a clown show. It’s been a circus. We’ve had Donald Trump who is not a politician and talking a lot of craziness out of the box. Stuff that has resonated with some people because they’re tired of lifelong politicians. Then you have the other side who is Hillary, the lifelong politician. She’s resonated to some people that are just afraid of having Donald Trump in there. Then you’ve got people in the middle who don’t want either of them. Those are most likely the people we represent because we don’t endorse either candidate because we don’t believe in either of them.
We believe in making the change yourself. You don’t need the politicians to make the change. You gather, you organize, and with those like-minded people you fight for the change that you want instead of depending on the politicians who do this circus thing for your vote and never actually fulfill the promises that they give to the people, the lies. So I think for us we’re just going to vote for the Prophets of Rage.
BROWN: Who gets your vote Chuck?
CHUCK-D: I’m going to follow what B-Real said. He said everything clear. Clear as a bell. And I defer to a lot of what he says and a lot of what every member of this group says because we’re surrounded by these situations every day. And we’re asked by a lot of people what’s going on. Musically there’s an answer to it. Lyrically there’s an answer to it and also political there’s an answer to it. So yea this is a very – you came here to get something.
BROWN: Tom Morello just stepped in here. Snuck in here. Snagged some chips. Waved and left. But I’m sorry Chuck, continue.
CHUCK-D: This is called luxury. But yea it’s definitely a bizarre-o situation. I tell people you’ve got to pay attention to your local. That stuff that’s on TV is almost like the false god type of thing going on. But the local like who’s this cat getting voted into the school board. Who’s the dude that’s the Sheriff that never gets an opposing person running against him. You’re in a straight out one-sided county that you live. You know you have to figure that stuff out. That stuff that’s happened at the top man, it’s like the most disappointing thing of all because if Bernie Sanders was talking the right thing, how disappointing is it to so many people that they ended up in the same place that they started before he even existed like he never existed. And if you’re not going to have the clown show with Trump you’ve got to face the monarchy of Clinton. And it has a lot of people shaking their damn head. So vote for Prophets of Rage.
BROWN: The media’s a big reason why we find ourselves in this situation dealing with Clinton and Trump. But you both have your own media ventures going on individually. Chuck, for people who don’t know about Rap Station, let them know.
CHUCK-D: Well you know we provide service to a lot of rap music and hip hop and artists and producers and women and deejays, and 98% of the music is obscured. So we provide that service and it’s a joy of providing that service with more audio than the visual aspect. We’ve also learned from this great man here with what’s on his hat, B-Real TV who’s a large visual presence as well as audio. You know it’s a lot of things that’s out there that’s not getting the speck of attention when it comes down to media.
And I’ve known this man for over 20 years and I know that he provides service to so many people getting there breaks, have been toiling in their art form and their social surroundings for so long and he doesn’t spend his time dwelling on any part of the downside of somebody. On the negative. There’s so much of the upside people spend a lot of their time going into a studio, making a song, putting out an album. Getting it on iTunes, hoping that maybe 200 people can like know about it. You know. We spend time to try to help that out and that’s my dedication.
BROWN: B-Real TV. B-Real. Let’s keep it real. Yea I mean I can echo what Chuck said. We’ve built these platforms independently to give light to other artists that aren’t necessarily getting light on terrestrial radio. Maybe a little bit on satellite here and there but we wanted to be an alternative. Not just to give light to artists but to have that platform to have conversations like this and entertain people and to educate them about music, politics, and marijuana legalization, to be quite frank.
But you know these platforms have allowed us to be out there with the people and interact which is something Chuck and I have done throughout all of our careers. You know he pretty much taught me that from afar. You know so the interaction with the fans through these platforms whether its audio or visual, it speaks volumes because these fans want to hear something with substance. There’s plenty of mindlessness to see and to listen to reality TV shows and some of the stuff that’s going on radio and whatnot.
So we’re trying to do something uniquely different, be out of the box, play obscure stuff. Stuff that it’s not the popular song right now but it’s from an artist who’s doing something different quality and we’re just trying to provide that service and have another platform out there available that is not conventional and we don’t march to the drum of any corporate company funding us. It’s all self-sufficient and it allows us to speak our minds without being censored at all. So you know they’re very important to us and fortunately people have caught on to it and both platforms continue to grow and with this Prophets of Rage band in the world now you know it allows us to tell people exactly what we’re doing with Prophets of Rage and all the other things we’re doing.
So media’s important for sure but you know you have to take about the responsibility of what you’re putting out there. You could put out some of the mindless stuff too and you have to live with what you put out there and stuff like that. So you know we try to make it a fair balance of substance and I like to call it celebratory. The mindless stuff. You’re just celebrating life, the materialistic things to me that’s celebratory music. But the substance we also have and that’s the most important thing because people need to hear a message, you know. And that’s important to me and I know it’s important to Chuck, so.
BROWN: Well there’s party music, then there’s rebel music and these gentlemen’s goal is to make America rage again. I’m so honored to be sitting here along with Chuck-D from Public Enemy, B-Real from Cypress Hill. They came together with members of Rage against the Machine and have formed Prophets of Rage. They are coming to a city near you. You need to go check them out. Gentlemen thank you both for taking to speak to the Real News.
B-REAL: Thanks for having us. It’s been real.
CHUCK-D: Thank you Kim. Thank you.
BROWN: Thank you.
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