When Rage Against the Machine emerged in the early 90s, there was no other band like them. They not only merged rock with rap at a time when there was a stark divide between the two genres, but their sweeping lyrics called for a political revolution during the supposedly peaceful decade after the Cold War and before 9/11. . It was a time when most groups looked to their own pain, not the struggles of minorities in America and people living under oppressive regimes around the world.
“It was one of those rare instances where the planets aligned properly and the alchemy of musical magic and story flowed,” Chuck D recalled of Rage in 2016. “I saw them in concert [early on], and what I remember most is how devastated the crowd was afterwards. I had never seen a place destroyed; sweat and blood on the walls. The fucking tables have been turned over and the rafters knocked down. It was crazy. These are the Led Zeppelins of our time.
Rage broke up in 2000 and left only three albums of original material, but these songs have aged remarkably well during the chaos and turmoil of the past two decades. And when they announced a reunion tour, which will finally kick off on July 7 after several pandemic-related delays, tickets sold out with remarkable speed. There’s no indication that they’ve recorded any new music, but they really don’t need to. They sort of created the soundtrack of our times a quarter of a century ago. Here we count their 25 greatest songs.