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Song Stories

“Killing in the Name”

Rage Against the Machine | 1992

This opening salvo from Rage set the tenor for the band's career as the song spewed venomously against racism perpetraed by the U.S. establishment. The track's conception began simply, with Tom Morello coming up with the riff while teaching a guitar lesson. It ended up a modern anthem, being covered live by Phish, remixed by Deadmau5 and used by Bill Hicks in one of the political comic's final standup performances before he died. "We were melding hard rock, punk and hip-hop, and I was the DJ," Morello told Rolling Stone. "It allowed me to emulate a lot of noises that I heard on Dr. Dre and Public Enemy records."

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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