More than a mere means to a groove, music has served as foundation for some of history’s most radical thinkers, providing a soundtrack to revolution.
Where as most people want music to escape the daily realities of their life, certain artists found it as a tool for mind expansion and further realization. The music itself serves as a sugar to help the medicine go down, and minds would never be the same after the following albums hit the shelves.
In celebration of Prozak’s upcoming album Black Ink, which is sure to deliver at least one track that makes you go “Whoa, I never thought of that!”, we’ve tallied five of the most revolutionary albums that pop culture has ever heard.
Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
Before he became rock and roll’s greatest myth, Bob Dylan burst on the scene as the spokesperson of his generation – a singer of protest songs that pointed the accusatory finger at the callous machine that rules us all. “Masters Of War” is a direct indictment against the military-industrial complex. It’s probably the song least open to interpretation in Dylan’s entire catalog, with lines like “I hope you die, and your death comes soon,” a fitting vengeance towards those that order the death of so many.
MC5 – Kick Out The Jams (1969)
With MC5, Detroit got its musical voice, and the whole world of rock and roll got a supreme kick in the ass. Managed by White Panther founder John Sinclair, MC5 gave a voice to the angry reactionaries of the 1960s. The phrase “Kick Out The Jams” came to mean more than the band ever intended, standing for the kicking down of societal restrictions. The album itself is one of the most terrifying recordings ever made, what rock critic Pierro Scaruffi calls “the rock and roll equivalent of an atomic bomb.” Songs like “Motor City is Burning” turn a slow blues format into a harrowing narrative of street-level revolution that was far ahead of its time.
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On (1971)
Nobody expected the romantic crooner to release one of the most socially aware and poignant albums of the post-Vietnam era, but Marvin Gaye turned expectations on their head with What’s Going On. Written from the perspective of a Vietnam veteran who returns home to only find hostility, suffering, and injustice on his own soil. “Right On” is a latin-tinged dance song that somehow talks about the differences between the rich and the poor, “What’s Happening Brother” sees the protagonist encounter the disullisionment of returning home, and “Mercy Mercy Me” is a plea to save the environment…written in 1971. It’s safe to say that while Gaye was singing to the times, he was also very far ahead of his time.
Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (1988)
You knew this was coming. Public Enemy was the group that turned the music of the streets into a full-on political platform. The Bomb Squad’s production set the chaotic tone for Chuck D’s pastoral baritone to soar over, providing a full-on sonic revolution, for not only hip hop, but music as a whole. This album is the “Black CNN” that Chuck D referenced when speaking of hip hop. “Night Of The Living Baseheads” is a devastating indictment of the crack epidemic, “Don’t Believe The Hype” is a scathing media critique and “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos” is a prison-break narrative…it doesn’t get more revolutionary than that.
Rage Against The Machine – Rage Against The Machine (1992)
“Landlords and power whores, on my people they took turns,” Zach Dela Rocha says in “Bombtrack”, equating the suppresion of citizens to gang rape. Powerful lines like this are a dime a dozen on Rage Against The Machine’s carpet bomb of a debut album. Tom Morello revolutionized the guitar, turning it into a violent weapon capable of seismic shockwaves, while Zach Dela Rocha raises an angry fist (and middle finger) to all of America’s means of citizen control: corporate imperialism, capitalist greed and police’s abuse of authority. By being the first band to combine the music of urban white rebels (rock and roll) and urban black rebels (hip hop), Rage Against the Machine created an audio molotov cocktail that has had fans begging for a reunion eversince.
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