The election didn’t go the way Prophets of Rage had hoped, but thereafter, band member B Real says, the work has continued.
The rap supergroup comprising members of Public Enemy (Chuck D, DJ Lord), Cypress Hill (B Real) and Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave (Tim Commerford, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk) took their anti-Trump message on the road last fall, going so far as to perform outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Despite their hopes, President Trump entered the White House in January, but the music has rolled on.
The Prophets, who are releasing a new self-titled album Friday, will perform at the District’s 9:30 Club Thursday evening. Prior to the gig B Real spoke with The Washington Times about keeping people woke.
Question: You and the band were obviously hoping for a different election outcome. How have you continued on in 2017 with the result we have?
Answer: It’s basically gonna take more work. At the time we came along and things were happening, it was a chance to wake people up. This president I think spoke to the level of distrust that a lot of people have for our politicians that they let this guy in. He has no experience in the field.
It also spoke to how people just dialed it in. They didn’t think this guy stood a chance. It speaks to how broken the system is. Some people are just so disconnected. So when he got elected, some of us were surprised, some of us were not surprised, some disappointed, some elated. There’s a lot of division.
The one thing we are going to keep doing is what we had planned when we first put the band together: ignite people to get involved in the process and be in the know.
Q: How did you stay positive after Election Day?
A: When he got elected, we realized we had more work ahead of us, and that was OK. We’re all passionate about our beliefs and what we feel needs to be done. If any positive came out of it, it fueled us even more because we knew we had to do more work.
Q: Your audiences obviously come to the show to rock out and have a good time, but what do you hope they do after they go home as far as being active?
A: We hope after we’ve rocked them and entertained them that they take a message that we gotta stand unified. We gotta “do” and not just say. We gotta become a part of making the change in one another.
One of our ways to contribute is making music, because we felt that the people had not had anything speaking to all the things going on right now. Most radio outlets deem the controversial stuff as unmarketable, and so do record companies.
There was a big void, if you will, in terms of people speaking their minds and standing up for others. That was just something we wanted to do. And God willing, after somebody comes to one of our shows, they get inspired in whatever way they can.
Q: With so many talented musicians in the group, how does the songwriting process work?
A: We all love and respect one another as people, but even more so as artists because everybody is very accomplished and has great ideas. For this particular process it was so easy because everybody came in open-minded to everyone’s suggestions — whether to add to the song to make it better or simplify the song to make it better.
We sort of scrutinized each other and were honest with each other. There were times where Chuck had an idea and we built off of that, and there were times that I had an idea and we built off of that. Other times that Tom and Tim would have an idea and Chuck and I would build off of that.
So it was unique in terms of how we threw it around and ended up where we ended up. I had never been a part of something like that before. I’d done a lot of work as a recording artist with Cypress Hill, solo and many other projects, but the amount of [creativity] that went into this and how quickly it came about was incredible, man.
Q: What have been some of the stranger critiques the band has gotten?
A: The one criticism that I’ll always get is, “What is a stoner doing in this band? What is B Real doing there?” Because Cypress Hill is not a politically motivated band in terms of content like Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine. And I think some people in the beginning were taken aback. “Can he even bring the intensity? What is he going to talk about, smoking weed?”
But realistically, I don’t let any of those criticisms get to me. I know who I am, I know what I am, I know what I’m capable of, and if these guys have faith in what I’m doing, as I have faith in what they’re doing, nothing can stop us.
Q: Do Cypress Hill fans come to the show expecting to hear one thing but are pleasantly surprised?
A: There might be some Cypress Hill fans going, “Oh, why is he doing that?” Or Public Enemy fans [asking], “Why is Chuck doing that?” And all that sort of nonsense. But there are those people that are 100 percent glad and appreciate what we’re doing because the world needs that kind of music.
A lot of people judge me because of what I do with Cypress, but it’s not all about weed and materialism. It’s about what’s going on in society, just not in a political way, but as an everyday way of someone [being] from the street.
I think because of our marijuana politics, that tends to get overlooked. So people have a perception of what I am as an artist, but coming into Prophets, I think it was such a serious idea in terms of putting this kind of band together. Playing the Rage Against the Machine music as well as all of our other catalogues, I think some people were just skeptical, and we had to make them believers.
Q: What are your hopes for this current leg of the tour?
A: We’re going to play more music off the [new] album. We’re still going to play from the Rage catalogue and the Public Enemy catalogue, but we want the new music to resonate.
We’re trying to put this new message across. We want a new feeling, a new vibe, a new idea to keep waking people up, man. And to rock them while we’re doing it.
Prophets of Rage’s new self-titled album is out Friday. The band performs at the 9:30 Club Thursday evening. Tickets are $49.50 by going to Ticketfly.com.