November 3, 1992: Rage Against The Machine releases their self-titled debut album and everything changes…again.
The easy analogy to make is that Rage did for rap-rock and nu-metal what Nirvana did a year earlier for grunge and alternative rock with Nevermind. But that’s also a lazy analogy. It’s probably more accurate to say that, when Nirvana kicked the door open in 1991, that door opened so wide that rock and rock-adjacent acts would come trampling through for years to come. Time has proven this to be true. Any look-back at the alternative music of the ’90s sees successful acts in a wide variety of genres: grunge, punk, rap-rock, nu-metal, techno…I could go on. But I won’t. Because I’m here to talk about Rage.
Rage Against The Machine plays the dubious role of not being the first to mix rap and rock, but to be the first to do it so well that pretty much every act that followed them would pale in comparison. And that’s due largely in part to their incendiary self-titled debut album. Two related trends jump out at me in revisiting Rage Against The Machine thirty years on. The first? This band is dead fucking serious. There’s not a hint of that early-90’s “whatever” attitude, nor is there any of the corniness that would come to define the rap-rock genre later in the decade.
‘Rage Against The Machine’ Turns 30
The second? Rage Against The Machine has always been and will always be a political band. Their politics have been on display in word and action since the jump. When you revisit the album–and you should; I’ve laid out some of the stand-out tracks below–pull up the lyrics. Read along. Be reminded of what Rage stood for and stands for. Maybe you missed the message 30-plus years ago, maybe you’ve changed. They haven’t. And the message is stronger than ever.