Interview – B-Real of Cypress Hill & Prophets of Rage

No one really knows the exact moment a revolution begins, but when it does there is simply no stopping it. Proudly standing behind a message against oppression, during the ’90s Rage Against the Machine started a groundswell on the Rock scene. Highly political, uncompromising and uncensored, their impact on American culture was evident in the attitude of the youth. Over two decades after initially striking, the country’s political climate is as polluted as ever and following the travelling circus that became the 2016 Presidential Election, a beast was awoken; one which saw Rage Against the Machine’s Guitarist Tom Morello, Bassist Tim Commerford, and Drummer Brad Wilk come back together. Inviting Public Enemy icon Chuck D – along with DJ Lord and Cypress Hill’s B-Real to join the movement – thus began Prophets of Rage.

Inspired and ready to provoke thought among the world’s citizens, Prophets of Rage are just getting started as they prepare to release their debut album on September 15th. Recently, we caught up with B-Real to talk the story behind Prophets of Rage; music with a message; plans for the band; Cypress Hill; and much more. – For over 25 years, you have built one of the most respected names in Hip Hop as a leader in Cypress Hill. Through the years of writing music, performing, and projects such as Prophets of Rage, what has the trip been like with Prophets of Rage?

B-Real – It has been great! I didn’t know what to expect initially because it is a totally different monster; I went into it optimistically thinking it was a great idea and reason for getting together. I felt that the possibilities were limitless coming in with the years. Once we started playing shows together, it just took a whole other life. It has been a great run so far. – Very cool. Prophets of Rage teamed up in 2016 with yourself, Chuck D, DJ Lord, along with Tom, Tim, and Brad from Rage Against the Machine. How did this project come to life?

B-Real – It started with the presidential elections of last year, when media outlets made a story which proclaimed Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were “Raging Against The Machine.” This disturbed Tom Morello, and he called Tim and Brad and said, “Hey, we have to do something about this. We have to show people what ‘raging against the machine’ is. We have to bring this music back.” In the course of doing that, they came up with the idea of inviting Chuck D and I to do this with them. Once they told me about the idea, I couldn’t say no: I thought it was amazing and the reasons for it was amazing. The possibilities obviously would be incredible, as well. That was it!

I have to say, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders woke a lot of people up with this. People slept, they didn’t think Trump had a chance, and look at where we are. We have a whole lot of work to do at waking people up and getting people involved. I have to say this last presidential election is the spark that put this thing together. The positive thing that came out of all that fuckery and circus was it ignited 6 guys that have much love and respect for what we do, with confidence that we can get together and pull something off that will be good for the people.

Also for us as artists, to get out there and play some rocking music of our past catalogues and some new stuff that we just created…that was the spark and it led to the domino effect that we are in now. I have to say things happen for a reason, and I am grateful for that. As fucked up as the situation is right now in terms of how we are looked at as Americans and our political system, all that shit gave reason to putting this band together against all the bullshit going on.

Photo credit: Travis Shinn – Something positive comes out of what is really a circus all around. Prophets of Rage is certainly politically-charged and you take issues head on. That is refreshing because not many artists do that anymore. As an uncompromising artist, how important is it to you to bring this message to the people?

B-Real – It is a passion of ours at this point. We are all grown-ass men and we have seen the world change from many aspects; we all travel due to our occupation and we see how things are everywhere. Somebody needed to say something. Someone needed to be championing a cause, any kind of cause; right now very few artists are speaking about anything.

As an artist, championing political artists or talking about the things we are talking about right now, it is not safe for a Pop artist because it is not profitable. This time up, music has been pretty much tucked away forever. Realistically, they don’t want people ignited, they don’t want people thinking, they want people asleep. When people are asleep nothing gets done and things go backwards.

I think it was important for us to get together initially to play the Rage Against The Machine music and remind people what it is to rage against the machine. In that process, we decided, hey, we need to make music right now that speaks to right now. The Rage Against The Machine music was definitely relevant to this time and moment; everything they were saying 20 years ago is all still happening now. To capture new people who didn’t know about Rage Against The Machine or any of those messages, we felt we have to make new shit to go with that. It all just took off for us in a positive way.

We all have a great time making this music because we all have the same love and are on the same page; we all have the same passion and outlook. There are some things that are different, not everyone has the exact same way of thought. Pretty much we all believe there is a void in music, and a void in the world of people saying anything. We decided to be those guys.

Concord Music Group – Well it is important for people to think and question. The band’s debut record is set for release September 15th. Fans have had samples of Prophets of Rage with touring and official track releases. What was the writing and recording process like for the debut record?

B-Real – Initially we went into a rehearsal space and we took the momentum from the tour. We realized we have this special chemistry amongst us to be able to click and start doing shows and be effective. We thought we are going to take this momentum and take it into the studio. It looks good on paper – Chuck D, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford, DJ Lord, and myself; it looks great on paper and sounds great live, but recording an album is different.

We knew we had something though. We thought before we go into a studio, let’s go to a rehearsal spot and come up with some ideas. As we were doing that the creative flow was great, because everyone had great ideas and everyone was open to each others’ ideas.

Everything just worked out amazing. We got in there and maybe within 3 months we had the bulk of what would become our album. When we called Brendan O’Brien to come in and give his opinion of what he thought, he immediately said, “We have to get into the studio with this. There are a couple of things we have to tweak but I like what I am hearing.”

All of us have tremendous respect for Brendan O’Brien, we thought we definitely had something. He is a guy who is honest, brutally honest if you will, and he would have told us if we were standing on shit (laughs). Fortunately he liked it a lot and thought we should get in there relatively quick so we could start knocking it down. Once we got into the studio, it flowed really easily and quickly because everyone’s ideas were great and open to each other. It was like no other studio session I have ever been a part of. – Excellent to hear. It will be exciting to hear the final product once it comes out. You have the music videos out now which are certainly eye-opening. You are touring with Prophets of Rage but also with Cypress Hill. How it is managing the two together?

B-Real – Oh man, you have to be the world’s greatest juggler and multi-tasker, but I welcome the challenge. It has been cool so far. I imagine it is going to be a bit more hectic as we come closer to releasing the Prophets of Rage album and then eventually the Cypress Hill album. I don’t really know the date on that one, but we do have a couple of things in the can ready to go. It is just all about getting the timing right and finishing up a couple of songs. It is going to be a busy year and a half.

Columbia – That is a lot of great things to look forward to. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. covers music and Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite Horror films?

B-Real – I was back in the day but I don’t really watch them too much anymore. The Entity (1982) was always a go-to movie for me.

Prophets of Rage Tour Dates:
Sept. 7: Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
Sept.9: Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ
Sept 10: Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Sept 12: Apollo Theater, New York, NY
Sept 14: 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
Sept. 16: 93X: Twenty – Canterbury Park, Shakopee, MN
Sept. 17: Riot Fest – Douglas Park, Chicago, IL
Oct. 1: Louder Than Life – Louisville, KY
Oct. 14: Houston Open Air – Houston, TX
Oct. 27-29: Voodoo Music + Arts Experience – New Orleans, LA
Nov. 4: Ozzfest – San Bernardino, CA
*More dates to be announced soon

Cypress Hill Tour Dates:
Aug 17 Pukkelpop Kiewit Hasselt, Belgium
Aug 18 Royal Arena Festival Orpund, Switzerland
Aug 20 Lowlands Festival Biddinghuizen, Netherlands
Aug 24 Cabaret Vert Charleville Mézières, France
Aug 25 Couvre Feu Festival Frossay, France
Aug 28 STADTHALLE Offenbach, Germany
Aug 29 Zitadelle Berlin, Germany
Aug 31 Parkbühne Hannover, Germany
Sep 01 Haus Auensee Leipzig, Germany
Sep 02 Rottenburg Sommer Open Air 2017 Rottenburg, Germany
Oct 30 Brooklyn Steel Brooklyn, NY
Oct 31 House of Blues Boston Boston, MA
Nov 01 The Fillmore Silver Spring Silver Spring, MD

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