To Rage or Not to Rage?
Guitarist and activist virtuoso Tom Morello’s latest post-Rage Against the Machine project, Street Sweeper Social Club, comprised of Morello and The Coup rapper Boots Riley, leaves only one question: Where’s Zack?
The duo’s self-titled debut marks the next step in the rap-rock arena—which in all honesty was only done justice by Rage—with Riley’s politically driven lyrics solely dependent on Morello’s gifted shredding, the true essence of Street Sweeper Social Club. Listeners, particularly Rage fans, want to like SSSC based exclusively on Morello’s signature riffs, but the substance just ain’t there. The combination of Riley’s often-weak deliveries and a toned-down Morello merely creates an album with more bark than bite.
The bad news for Riley is that the comparisons to Rage frontman Zack de la Rocha will start here and never end. There’s no doubt that Riley can hold his own against Morello’s thrashing with enough commie discontent to mobilize the masses. Yet somehow the message is drowned in elementary choruses, best exemplified by the “100 Little Curses” call to action backed by chants better fit for Pennywise.
Riley raps with anger and hits some golden nuggets throughout SSSC—”The earth is composed of space and atoms / And controlled by some pimps without Stacy Adams”—and Morello brings the heavy as always. Still, SSSC pushes no boundaries and worse, pushes no movement in a genre that might as well be a lost cause indefinitely. Or until Rage returns.