Clarify: Prophets of Rage discuss the real cost of income inequality

I’m Baratunde Thurston and I’m sitting here with some incredible musicians Who’ve come together, I’m talking: Brad Wilk, Tom Morello, Chuck D, Timmy C and DJ Lord Representing a new group called the Prophets of Rage I went to because I wanted
to see what is the message that you’re sending out to the folks who are Googling you, and
what they first land on. I came across this sentence that I just want
to read back to you and discuss, the words in the sentence. You say, “We can no longer stand on the sidelines
of history. Dangerous times demand dangerous songs. It’s time to take the power back.” I want to diagram the sentence with you guys. “We can no longer stand on the sidelines of
history.” Who’s the we? Well, specifically these musicians and these
songs of Rage, Cypress Hill, and Public Enemy have come together in a potent musical alloy
during a time when we feel the world needs it. Me specifically, and the band in general,
were outraged by the media’s coverage of both Trump and Sanders campaigns, saying that they
raged against the machine. Our message is one that is a diametrically
opposed to the two corporatus party system, and we had to have our voice injected into
this by going on our own North American campaign. The Make America Rage Again Tour. I like the hat by the way. We call it the camppain, C-A-M-P-P-A-I-N. Ah, camppain.Which is all of my summer camp
experiences, by the way. It is. Pain of the people, and we bringing the pain
on stage. Well, the second sentence you have, you say,
“Dangerous times demand dangerous songs.” I think everybody could understand what dangerous
times means. Whether it’s gun violence. Whether it’s the unequal health outcomes that
are happening. Whether it’s Isis. Whether it’s the dangers of playing Pokemon
Go as you’re walking through the streets. These time are dangerous, but what is a dangerous
song? What do you mean by that? Let me say this, this is the third convention
we’ve played, and our music has created riots where police are on horseback shooting our
fans with non-lethal weapons. Our music has created a barricade of police
that prevented us from actually going to the stage to play our dangerous music. It was hundreds, if not thousands of police
dressed in riot gear to protect people from our dangerous music. That’s the way I see it. This last beat, “It’s time to take the power
back.” From who? Who’s doing the taking? Was the power ever in the hands of those taking
it back? I think that the reason why during the primary
season you saw half the country voting for a fascist, and the other half voting for a
socialist is because people really do feel their powerlessness in the current system. I vote, and one of the candidates is more
outrageously horrible than the other one, just to make that clear. My idea is you should live in the world that
you want. Imagine the world you really want. Fight for that one. Don’t settle for the one that’s handed to
you by the ruling class. That’s what it means to take the power back. B Real could not be here
today from Cyprus Hill. He’s also an important part of the thing,
and shares that message. There’s a danger in not paying attention. Tell me about that. There’s just a danger not paying attention. These songs stand the test of time. In music time, or record business time, whatever
that is, it’s a long time, but in real time it’s a short time. In many ways not a lot has changed socially
since 1990s, or 1985, or systematically, I should say. Maybe in technology, gadgets, perception,
but a lot of the things in the institutions are still there. Pay attention, and don’t take anything for
granted. When you see the longevity of your music in
parallel with the longevity of the issues that your music had been talking about what
kind of mix of feeling does that bring up in you? Are you proud? Are you like, “Yeah, we made something that
lasts,” or are you depressed, like, “Oh, we made something that lasts?” We’re a continuing part of a continuing struggle. That’s the way I look at it. Maybe we hoped with the release of Bomb Track
that we would create an anarcho-syndicalist paradise. That didn’t happen. That’s an incredible pick. That’s an incredible grouping of words.I need you to repeat that slowly. Anarcho? Syndicalist paradise. I don’t even know what that means. How long have you guys been working together? The idea is that these are songs that were
confronting issues when they were written. Those issues have not gone away. Income inequality, police brutality, war and
imperialism overseas, those are issues that continue, but what also continues is resistance. An important part of resistance is culture,
and we reflect the times, and we make music that hopes to have an impact on the times. You’ve also called yourself, Prophets of Rage,
a revolutionary super-group. What’s the revolution? I think there are a number of revolutions. The first revolution that has to happen is
overthrowing the idea that the status quo is fixed. Imagine the world that you want to be in? That’s correct. That’s crucial of any historical epoch. As opposed to using the word super-group,
I think Tom’s definition of when we first assembled explains it clearly, and then maybe
super-group was after that. That was a task-force. Of revolutionary musicians come together to
pimp slap the establishment. You’re The Avengers. I get it. Something like that. To pimp slap the establishment. Some might have issue with language pimp slapping,
but I get what you’re saying. I have issue with the language too, so I still
want to pimp slap the establishment. You all are trip. The rage that you are reuniting around to
make America rage again, one of the issues that’s making a lot of people rage is income
and wealth inequality. Something that we’ve had a lot of practice
at in this country from the outset, but we’ve perfected over the last couple of generations. The numbers are even more off the charts than
they have been a few decades ago. Why do you think that this issue has been
so resonant in the campaigns that you described earlier and in the mood of the country? You have been in touch with this country for
decades, in crowds of people, what have you seen that makes you understand why this moment
feels so powerful around this. First of all, we’ve got the greatest income
inequality since the Roman Empire. Which is great. We’re number one. That’s amazing. Go America. The wealthiest 62 people on the planet own
as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion. Half of the Earth doesn’t have as much wealth
as the richest 62 people. It’s outrageous. Of the course of the last few decades all
of the benefits of globalization have been reaped by the tiniest .00%, and this has been
a scheme that has been supported democrats and republicans alike. Then when you have these outrageous candidates
like Trump and Sanders raise their hand and say, “That’s not right.” Giving voters an option that’s not the normal
Wall Street teat suckling candidates that you always get. Can I just ask you something? Why do you mince your words? I feel like you have something you’re trying
to say, but you hold back. What I’m trying to say is I don’t blame a
lot of the Trump voters for their anger. I think it’s the wrong answer to a very, very
legitimate question. Like, “Why have we, meaning the people, been
left back from the great wealth that the planet creates?” The only electoral option they have to say,
“Fuck you,” is a horrible racist demagogue. One of the reasons why we’ve entered the fray
is that there is a way to channel your rage towards a more just and humane planet. What do the Prophets of Rage foresee as a
more constructive channeling of that anger? We start with a world where people have a
roof over their heads, where they’re able to eat, where their children are able to be
educated, and where there’s some semblance of dignity in the workplace. Start with those four pillars as a way to
have a decent society. That’s what I’d start with. The rest of world is threaded with so many
have-nots while this territory brags about what it has, and even within you have people
who basically saying, “Well, I’m not part of the haves as I think I should be.” We want to make sure that we can clear up
a lot of the hypocrisies or the misunderstandings of what these institutions and systems are
in short term, and that’s music. To penetrate in vibe of words and music, to
get across where it would take pretty much a long winded politician with a whole bunch
of fake promises to twist people into confusion. We said, “Boom. You want to think for yourself. You don’t want to have anybody think for you.” Part of why taken a while for this conversation
to really take hold in this country. Of the industrialized nations we are the among
the worst at fairness economically. Partly it seems because all of use believes
that we can be one of the 62. We’re like, “Oh, poverty’s terrible, but I’m
not going to be here that long.” It’s a pimp trick. That’s the pimp trick. Yeah, it’s the lottery. It’s like buying a lottery ticket. One of the reasons why I’m furious about income
inequality and why you should be too is the opportunity cost. You’re like, “How do you see it out there?” It’s what you don’t see. It’s what you don’t see. I feel very blessed. Because my mom was a single parent, public
high school teacher was able to afford a $50.00 guitar and a basement where I could practice
it in I somehow got on a path where you nice people are interviewing our band. We’re not all nice. This many years later. You, perhaps, are doing the thing that you
feel you were born to be doing, but billions of people around the planet are denied the
ability to be the person they were born to be because of poverty. The doctor who could cure cancer may be in
a sweatshop in Indonesia. The next Mozart may be in a maquiladora sewing
your shoes along the Mexican border. That is the opportunity cost of economic inequality
that the cost is so great, and it so horrible that what the world is denied by denying the
talents and the fruits of humanity who are just suppressed because of poverty. You see the lashing out especially among young
people who are not necessarily buying the choices that are being put before them. What do you all think needs to happen to reduce
that? Do you think it’s possible to reduce it? I assume you do, or else you wouldn’t do the
work you are, but how do you chip away at that feeling that it’s not even worth it to
participate? One, you just look at history, and how has
change happened before? Change happens. The Berlin Wall fell. Apartheid was overcome. Women got the right to vote. Lunch counters were desegregated. It’s an election season, we put this band
together. We talk a lot about politics. We talk a lot about economics. The key thing before any of that is it has
to be a devastating rock and roll band. It’s not a college lecture, and we are not
handing out flyers outside of Starbucks. First and foremost, the message is in the
mosh pit, and the way that this music, the history of music, and the alloy of this band
comes together, it’s much more than the spoon full of sugar that makes the medicine go down. It’s the devastating rock and roll, hip hop,
funk, merciless sonic power that is created, that is the delivery system of the message. That’s why we’ve been acquainted for so long. Why we’ve come together now is first and foremost
that has to be it. Yeah, camppain. C-A-M-P-P-A-I-N. I’m glad you’re really trying to make that
happen. Greatness don’t come without pain. When I’m aside I’m looking at Tom, I’m looking
at Brad, I’m looking at Timmy, and the Lord, and also B Real, I’m in awe when I’m looking
at these guys. I’m saying, “Yo, man. How the fuck do you do what you do?” There had been a lot of frustrating, painful
days and nights to get to where he. In his vault? To get to his level. I would not be at the level that I’m at had
it not been for this gentleman right here. I would not be sitting here today. I don’t think any of us would be. What I was saying is I think we’re also in
a time where new generations move in so quickly, and they’re not taught, or they’re under-taught
the pain of what it takes to be flawless. As you all are mutual fans of each other’s
work, as you’ve had a chance to play each other’s songs or play your own songs again,
have you rediscovered parts of what you originally felt when you created the music? Have you found new things in it because of
your distance from it because the country that you’re playing it in is a bit different? Because you’re playing with people from other
groups how is the underlying music felt. For playing the Rage songs I think whenever
you add different chemistry in the mix, so with B Real, and Chuck, and DJ Lord it changes
things. These songs feel so exciting, and to have
Chuck, his voice’s just so iconic. The second he opens up his mouth it’s an unbelievable
feeling. Our frequency chart with the six of us is
huge, and I’ve never experienced anything quite like that. It’s amazing. I’m playing Cyprus Hill songs, and Public
Enemy songs, and doing different takes on those songs is amazing. It’s a whole refreshing situation, man. I’ve been Public Enemy songs for eons, Rage
Against the Machine Songs for eons, Cyprus Hill songs for eons, but it’s a whole new
element now. I’ve been chasing this man for years trying
to figure out what patterns he’s playing on his guitar, and scratches, and styles. Every time we would see each other on the
road I’d be like, “Dude, I’m going to battle you.” He’s like, “No, I’m going to battle you, dude.” I’m loving this song. I’m loving Calm Like a Bomb. I’m going to learn it, and scratch, and meet
you next time. Low and behold, fast forward, and here we
are. It’s a whole new dynamic. It feels like I’m learning how to DJ again,
and I love it. If I replay everything you guys just said,
and I imagine we’re not talking the Prophets of Rage. We’re talking about the United States of America. We’re talking about the world. I start to get a taste for what you’re going
for. It’s really. The membership and the music manifests the
solidarity that we try to project at the show. Our Chicano brother B Real’s not here today,
but you see it on stage. You see it in the crowd. You hear it from the metal, to the punk, to
the hip hop. From the hip hop elements of the show to the
hard rock elements of the show it’s like it’s an amalgam of the United States that comes
through the speakers, and people hear it back. They’re seeing and hearing a different version
of America than they’re spoon fed by the nightly news, when they’re spoon fed by the two candidates.

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