Prophets of Rage – the supergroup/“elite task force of revolutionary musicians” featuring members of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill – brought their high-minded rap-rock to The Tonight Show on Monday night, performing “Living on the 110” from their upcoming eponymous debut album.
“Living on the 110” confronts systemic inequality. “You drive by see the family camped out by the underpass,” B-Real raps. “You got your blinders on, you want to hit the gas.” Chuck D joins him on the chorus, which serves as a quick indictment of both the government and those who refuse to speak out against the inequality all around them: “There’s no end to the poverty stopping me/ You pretend there’s democracy, hypocrisy.”
On The Tonight Show, “Living on the 110” also played as a conversation between drummer Brad Wilk and guitarist Tom Morello. Wilk played a lead-weight break beat, punctuating the end of each verse with a series of harsh cymbal hits. Morello was similarly dogged, cycling through the same jagged riff with unremitting intensity.
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“‘Living on the 110’ is a song that speaks to the issue of homelessness,” the guitarist said in a statement when his band released their latest single. “The 110 is a freeway in Los Angeles and living beneath it are thousands of homeless people. Bentleys and Rolls Royces roaring by are literally driving on top of the poor and their makeshift homes, a picture perfect analogy for the grotesque economic inequality that plagues our times.”
Prophets of Rage will release their new album on Friday, September 15th. Brendan O’Brien helped produce the LP. “Music has both the ability to reflect and transform the times,” Morello said.