3 Rebelliously Eternal Songs by Rage Against the Machine

Recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Rage Against the Machine is all snarl and protest. Fronted by Zack de la Rocha and supported by the innovative guitar player Tom Morello, the group proverbially set fire to stages and brought a blend of hip-hop and rock to the cultural forefront, all while deriding corruption and calling for political action.

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Over the years, the band has written and released a plethora of songs that have touched audiences and driven people to open up their minds to what’s possible, not just what’s given to them. Here below, we wanted to highlight three songs that have stood the test of time. A trio of tunes from the band that will live eternal sonic lives thanks to their pointedness.

[RELATED: Tom Morello to Receive 2024 Woody Guthrie Prize, Joins Past Honorees Kris Kristofferson, Bruce Springsteen, Chuck D, and More]

“Bulls on Parade” from Evil Empire (1996)

One of the most famous opening rock riffs from the 1990s, that head-bouncing heaviness combined with that static wah-wah pedal … and then Zack de la Rocha comes in like a lightening bolt, COME WIT’ IT NOW! The frontman rap-sings as if spitting bullets from his mouth. It’s a tough line to walk between protest singer and millionaire for your music, but if any band did it with authenticity, it was Rage. Sings de la Rocha about war, violence and deception,

The microphone explodes, shattering the molds
Either drop the hits like De La O or get the f–k off the commode
Wit’ the sure shot, sure to make the bodies drop
Drop and don’t copy yo, don’t call this a co-op
Terror rains drenchin’, quenchin’ the thirst of the power dons
That five sided fist-a-gon
The rotten sore on the face of mother earth gets bigger
The triggers cold empty ya purse

Rally ’round the family with a pocket full of shells
They rally ’round the family with a pocket full of shells
They rally ’round the family with a pocket full of shells
They rally ’round the family with a pocket full of shells

“Testify” from The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)

This song is about control. Political control, mostly, which leads to social control. This song does not pick a side between Republican or Democrat—in fact, it shows how the two are so much alike, highlighting the presidential race between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000. The message? All should be wary of the men and women who say they are working for us, as they are largely working for the market and not the populous. Sings de la Rocha,

Now testify
Now testify
It’s right outside your door
Now testify
Yes, testify
It’s right outside your door

With precision you feed me
My witness, I’m hungry
Your temple, it calms me
So I can carry on

My slaving, sweating
The skin right off my bones
On a bed of fire, I’m choking
On the smoke that fills my home

“Guerrilla Radio” from The Battle of Los Angeles (1999)

This track won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance and features a bombastic, bone-shaking chorus. If you wanted to be pumped up or inspired to do something, this is the song that should be put on the stereo. The band’s lead singer is a power station, a thousand batteries in your back. On the rampaging song, de la Rocha sings,

Transmission third world war third round
A decade of the weapon of sound above ground
No shelter if you’re lookin’ for shade
I lick shots at the brutal charade
As the polls close like a casket
On truth devoured
A Silent play in the shadow of power
A spectacle monopolized
The camera’s eyes on choice disguised
Was it cast for the mass who burn and toil?
Or for the vultures who thirst for blood and oil?

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Photo by John Shearer/WireImage

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