A few weeks ago, an anonymous website arrived with a countdown clock, one set to hit zero on May 31. The domain, Prophets of Rage, is named for a Public Enemy song, and arrived with a red-and-black militaristic logo.
Prophets of Rage also started posting oblique Instagram photos and embeds of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill tracks. It did all this while referencing a hashtag: #takethepowerback.
It didn't take long for sleuths to decipher the tease. This wasn't a political movement or an armed insurrection. After all, its Twitter feed's first tweet was posted by a publicist for a high-profile music agency.
The news was announced at 8 a.m. Pacific time when the clock ran down. Prophets of Rage is a supergroup featuring members of Rage Against the Machine, along with Chuck D of Public Enemy and B Real of Cypress Hill, and it just announced its first gig: Tuesday at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. and will be available only at the Whisky box office.
"We can no longer stand on the sidelines of history. Dangerous times demand dangerous songs," reads the site.
The politically charged crew likely will canvas the country during the rundown to the November presidential elections, but it is saving that news for Wednesday — the clock is counting down to 8 a.m. again.
The participating members of Rage — guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk — will be joined by founding members of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill. Absent from the picture: Zack de la Rocha, Rage's front man.
Morello is no stranger to grouping up. After de la Rocha first left Rage in the mid-1990s, the remaining three members teamed with vocalist Chris Cornell to form Audioslave. Morello formed the Street Sweeper Social Club with rapper-provocateur Boots Riley of the Coup. When he performs solo, he uses the name the Nightwatchman. When he joins Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band on tour, he is, simply, Tom Morello.
The two rappers Chuck D and B Real will join members of Rage to perform both tracks by the band and by their respective crews. Public Enemy's incitements are tailor-made for volume, and Cypress Hill's simmering, hazy grooves should offer a stoned counterpoint.
The Times will keep you posted on upcoming announcements.