Music history is filled with performers who have infused their art with political activism. From Woody Guthrie to Charles Mingus, The Clash to Public Enemy, there are scores (no pun intended) of revolutionary songs that have played integral roles in social change movements.
But no band has so intentionally mixed politics and music to the extent of Rage Against The Machine, who, in some ways, are less a band of musicians with a political message than a group of activists who just happen to make music.
It can be easy to forget about Rage Against The Machine. They haven’t released an album in a decade, and rarely perform together anymore. But their political impact can still be felt. And it will be in full force tonight, as they headline a concert “with all proceeds going to benefit Arizona organizations fighting SB 1070,” aka the “Papers Please” bill.
Tonight, the Hollywood Palladium will host Rage’s “first concert in Los Angeles in ten years,” as part of an effort by The Sound Strike, a coalition of musical artists, who are pledging to boycott the state of Arizona until the law is overturned.
“SB 1070 if enacted would legalize racial profiling in Arizona,” says Rage vocalist Zach de la Rocha. “We want to thank the artists of conscious that have joined the Soundstrike throughout the world who use their role as artists to stand for civil and human rights.”
Rage guitarist (and Harvard graduate) Tom Morello explains the Sound Strike strategy in the clip below.
Other artists supporting The Sound Strike’s efforts include DJ Spooky, who, working with Public Enemy’s Chuck D, recently remixed the suddenly-oh-so-relevant-again, “By the Time I Get to Arizona,” and is offering free downloads of the song.
L.A. is in for a treat tonight. And if Rage Against The Machine plays loud enough, their musical activism might just reach the state offices in Arizona.