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Protest 100: The Clash – ‘White Riot’

Artist:          The Clash

Song:           White Riot

Album:        The Clash

Producer:    Mickey Foote

Label:          CBS

Year:           1977 (US 1979)

Notes:
The Clash’s debut single lets you know what they had in store: short, sharp examinations of class divisions in a multiethnic world. It was written following Joe Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon’s experiences during the 1976 Notting Hill Carnival riots. The UK’s 1975 inflation rate was higher than 20%. Notting Hills was still working-class and inhabited by a mix of poor whites and Jamaican immigrants. The tinder was dry and heavy-handed policing of the annual event provided the spark.

As Strummer told NME: “The only thing we’re saying about the blacks is that they’ve got their problems and they’re prepared to deal with them. But white men, they just ain’t prepared to deal with them—everything’s too cosy. They’ve got stereos, drugs, hi-fis, cars. The poor blacks and the poor whites are in the same boat.”

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’  —
“Anyone inside the machine who might have opposed such measures was branded unpatriotic and drummed out at the next possibility.”

Lyrics:
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own

Black man gotta lotta problems
But they don’t mind throwing a brick
White people go to school
Where they teach you how to be thick

And everybody’s doing
Just what they’re told to
And nobody wants
To go to jail

White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own

All the power’s in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it
While we walk the street
Too chicken to even try it

And everybody’s doing
Just what they’re told to
And nobody wants
To go to jail

White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own

Hey, you, standing in line
Are we gonna sign an agreement?

White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own
White riot, I want to riot
White riot, a riot of our own

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: Black Sabbath – ‘Children of the Grave’

Artist:          Black Sabbath

Song:           Children of the Grave

Album:        Master of Reality

Producer:    Rodger Bain

Label:          Warner Bros.

Year:           1971

Notes:
Geezer Butler is a pacifist and this song picks up right where ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Electric Funeral’ left off. War is bad. Love is all. And the future is lost if we don’t realize that. Add in some swirling extra percussion and a looped, whispered “Children of the grave…” at the end for spooky effect, and the doom warning is complete. Ozzy also called it “the most kickass song we’d ever recorded,” in his ‘I Am Ozzy’ autobiography. Three nails verses and no chorus will do that!

Lyrics:
Revolution in their minds the children start to march
Against the world in which they have to live
And all the hate that’s in their hearts
They’re tired of being pushed around
And told just what to do
They’ll fight the world until they’ve won
And love comes flowing through, yeah

Children of tomorrow live in the tears that fall today
Will the sun rise up tomorrow bringing peace in any way?
Must the world live in the shadow of atomic fear?
Can they win the fight for peace or will they disappear, yeah

So you children of the world
Listen to what I say
If you want a better place to live in
Spread the words today
Show the world that love is still alive you must be brave
Or you children of today are children of the grave, yeah

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: Nuclear Assault – ‘When Freedom Dies’

Artist:          Nuclear Assault

Song:           When Freedom Dies

Album:        Handle With Care

Producer:    Randy Burns

Label:          In-Effect

Year:           1989

Notes:
From the second you see the cover, ‘Handle With Care’ presents itself as the pinnacle of socially conscious thrash metal. And it delivers song after song (‘Critical Mass,’ ‘Search & Seizure,’ ‘Torture Tactics’) of supercharged condemnation, with catchy riffs almost everywhere. Police repression, environmental destruction, the balance between freedom and security, fascism, and abuse of authority all take a beating before the journey’s over.

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’  —
“The freedom of assembly on the part of the nation’s youth was legislated against to the extent that any person wishing to host a group larger than 100 people 16-years of age or older had to first register the event and then accept criminal liability for any misdeeds.”

.”

Lyrics:
United in a time, a time of need
Against a common foe, the enemy
The years of death endured, the years of pain
Against an evil force, a force not sane

We become the enemy
When freedom dies for security

And then the world endured, a victory won
Against an insane man and his cohorts
But once the war was done, blind fear prevailed
And years of darkness came, freedom was nailed

We become the enemy
When freedom dies for security

We let our freedom die, we let it wane
We feared an enemy’s atomic rain
But what was on our minds, what we became
We and the enemy
We are the same

We become the enemy
When freedom dies for security
We become the enemy
When freedom dies for security

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: Aerosmith – ‘Nobody’s Fault’

Artist:          Aerosmith

Song:           Nobody’s Fault

Album:        Rocks

Producer:    Jack Douglas

Label:          Columbia

Year:           1976

Notes:
This one might seem like a stretch to some, but it’s one of my favorite Aerosmith songs and I heard it the way I heard it for decades before learning what actually inspired it. Written by guitarist Brad Whitford and vocalist Steven Tyler, ostensibly about earthquakes and flying, ‘Nobody’s Fault’ can be easily heard as offering a view of a world gone mad due to man’s neglect. That’s my interpretation and I’m sticking to it!

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’  —
“To do that we’ll need to head up the bridge and make sure nobody’s gonna be messing with the throttle.”

Lyrics:
Lord I must be dreamin’
What else could this be
Everybody’s screamin’
Running’ for the sea

Holy lands are sinkin’
Birds take to the sky
The prophets are all stinking drunk
I know the reason why

Eyes are full of desire
Mind is so ill at ease
Everything is on fire
Shit piled up to the knees

Out of rhyme or reason
Everyone’s to blame
Children of the season
Don’t be lame

Sorry, you’re so sorry
Don’t be sorry
Man has known
And now he’s blown it
Upside down and hell’s the only sound
We did an awful job
And now they say it’s nobody’s fault

Old St. Andres
Seven years ago
Shove it up their richters
Red lines stop and go
Noblemen of courage
Listen with their ears
Spoke but how discouragin’
When no one really hears

One of these day’s you’ll be sorry
Too many houses on the stilt
Three million years or just a story
Four on the floor up to the hilt

Out of rhyme or reason
Everyone’s to blame
Children of the season
Don’t be lame

Sorry, we’re so sorry
Don’t be sorry
Man has known
And now he’s blown it
Upside down and hell’s the only sound
We did an awful job
And now we’re just a little too late

Eyes are full of desire
Mind is so ill at ease
Everything is on fire
Shit piled up in debris

California showtime
Five o’clock’s the news
Everybody’s concubine
Was prone to take a snooze

Sorry, we’re so sorry
Don’t be sorry
Man has known
And now he’s blown it
Upside down and hell’s the only sound
We did an awful job
And now we’re just a little too late

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: Living Colour – ‘Time’s Up’

 

Artist:          Living Colour

Song:           Time’s Up

Album:        Time’s Up

Producer:    Ed Stasium

Label:          Epic

Year:           1990

Notes:
Though written on the more ecological tip, this song’s closing message is universal and timely: the time to act is now and all you need to do is get up and try. It also won Best Hard Rock Performance at that year’s Grammys. “A rock group consisting entirely of black members wasn’t supposed to be an issue and, in fact, could only be an issue in a culture that had collectively suppressed the music’s black roots.” (Reyes-Kulkarni, S., Diffuser, Aug. 28, 2015)

Lyrics:
Time’s up, the rivers have no life
Time’s up, the world is full of strife
Time’s up, the sky is falling
Time’s up, the Lord is calling

How you gonna stop the clock
When the well runs dry
All the rivers have died
Moment by moment, day by day
The world is just slipping away
Your future won’t save your past
The time is now, it won’t last
The time is nigh
Time to do-or-die

Time waits for no one
If you want to go on
Leave me something to grow on
The forests, the trees, the rivers, the seas
All die of this disease

Time ain’t on your side
Don’t sit idly by
You’ve just got to try

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: FEAR – ‘Let’s Have A War’

Artist:          FEAR

Song:           Let’s Have A War

Album:        The Record

Producer:    Gary Lubow

Label:          Slash

Year:           1982

Notes:
Though better known for such sophomoric gems as ‘Beef Boloney’ and ‘Gimme Some Action,’ as well as pissing everyone they could off, both onstage and in-person, there is no denying ‘Let’s Have A War’ (to ‘jack up the Dow Jones…we can blame it on the middle class!’) as documentation of who’s behind our conflicts and who suffers.

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’  —
“Fuck it. Let’s just bliss out.”

Lyics:
There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many
There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many [Repeat: x2]

Let’s have a war
So you can go and die!
Let’s have a war!
We could all use the money!
Let’s have a war!
We need the space!
Let’s have a war!
Clean out this place!

It already started in the city!
Suburbia will be just as easy!

There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many
There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many [Repeat: x2]

Let’s have a war!
Jack up the Dow Jones!
Let’s have a war!
It can start in New Jersey!
Let’s have a war!
Blame it on the middle-class!
Let’s have a war!
We’re like rats in a cage!

It already started in the city!
Suburbia will be just as easy!

There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many
There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many [Repeat: x2]

Let’s have a war!
Sell the rights to the networks!
Let’s have a war!
Let our wallets get fat like last time!
Let’s have a war!
Give guns to the queers!
Let’s have a war!
The enemy’s within!

It already started in the city!
Suburbia will be just as easy!

There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many
There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many [Repeat: x2]

There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many
There’s so many of us
There’s so many of us
There’s so many [Repeat: x2]

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: The Kinks – ‘Apeman’

Artist:          The Kinks

Song:           Apeman

Album:        Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part 1

Producer:    Ray Davies

Label:          Reprise

Year:           1970

Notes:
This lament of the modern world’s man-made problems isn’t so much a call to arms as a  contemplation of flight. Its laundry list of maladies, however, is coupled with an inescapably catchy chorus, keeping you rooted on the spot. Have some fun while the world burns! It’s not like you’ve got somewhere else to be.

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’  —
“His host, however, sprang upright, mouth agape and eyes agog.”

Lyrics:
I think I’m sophisticated
‘Cause I’m living my life like a good homosapien
But all around me, everybody’s multiplying
And they’re walking round like flies man

So I’m no better than the animals sitting in their cages
In the zoo man
Because compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees
I am an Apeman

I think I’m so educated and I’m so civilized
‘Cause I’m a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians

I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman

I’m an Apeman, I’m an Ape Apeman
No, I’m an Apeman
Well, I’m a King Kong man, I’m a Voo-Doo man
No, I’m an Apeman

‘Cause compared to the sun that sits in the sky
Compared to the clouds as they roll by
Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies
I am an Apeman

I’m an Apeman, I’m an Ape Apeman
No, I’m an Apeman
Well, I’m a King Kong man, I’m a Voo-Doo man
No, I’m an Apeman

I don’t feel safe in this world no more
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war
I want to sail away to a distant shore
And make like an Apeman

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: Fever 333 – ‘Made An America’

Artist:          Fever 333

Song:           Made An America

Album:        Made An America

Producer:    John Feldmann, Travis Barker

Label:          Roadrunner

Year:           2018

Notes:
I hadn’t paid a second’s worth of attention to this band until I stumbled upon a Facebook Live (while it was happening) of them performing on a set by themselves in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. The power was palpable. Formed from the remnants of three other LA-area bands, Fever 333 played its first show in 2017 in the back of a moving truck parked at a donut shop in Inglewood. The 333 in the band’s name represents the three core views the three-piece band espouses: Community, Charity, and Change. The band’s logo is an homage to the Black Panther Party.

Lyrics:
We are the melanin felons
We are the product of
Plunder and policy that you gotta love
Casinos, amigos on forty acres, uh
They built this shit on our backs
Made an America

Living in terror all while they terrorise
Cover your eyes ’cause people terrified
Fuck all the promises you were promised ’cause
They’re cutting your oxygen ’til you paralysed

Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)
All for one and none for all (Made an America)
No stars dead bodies on the boulevard
Cop cars, true killers, and they still at large
Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)

Home of the big bodies and wide blocks
The government giving ghettos that crack rock
Making quotas off baking soda and mass shock
This ain’t a theory, I saw it happen on my block
The homie Hector selling heroin from nine to five
My brother’s burning down the block when Rodney almost died
We’re giving thanks for measles, blankets, and genocide
They call it “cleaning up the streets”, we call it “homicide”

Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)
All for one and none for all (Made an America)
No stars dead bodies on the boulevard
Cop cars, true killers, and they still at large
Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)

Made an America, we made an America
Made an America, we made an America
Made an America, we made an America
Made an America, we made an America

Ah, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Alright
You built this on our backs
Okay
Show ’em who we is

Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)
All for one and none for all (Made an America)
No stars dead bodies on the boulevard
Cop cars, true killers, and they still at large
Where we land is where we fall (Made an America)

Made an America, we made an America
Made an America, we made an America

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: Public Enemy – ‘Fight The Power’

 

 

Artist:          Public Enemy

Song:           Fight The Power

Album:        Fear Of A Black Planet (1990)

Producer:    The Bomb Squad

Label:          Def Jam

Year:           1989 (‘Do The Right Thing’ soundtrack)

Notes:
With samples ripped straight from both the civil rights movement and James Brown, an inescapable head-nodder of a beat, and lyrics that were impossible to misinterpret, ‘Fight The Power’ stands as one of the high-water marks of protest through music. The song’s genesis lies in a meeting between PE and Spike Lee, called by the latter to find a musical embodiment of late-80s racial tension in Brooklyn for his feature directorial debut, ‘Do The Right Thing.’

Excerpt from ‘Unreality’ 
“The government was pleased to have such a powerful ally in its fight against social evils.”

Lyrics:

Yet our best trained, best educated, best equipped, best prepared troops refuse to fight
As a matter of fact, it’s safe to say that they would rather switch than fight

1989 the number another summer (get down)
Sound of the funky drummer
Music hitting your heart ’cause I know you got soul
(Brothers and sisters, hey)
Listen if you’re missing y’all
Swinging while I’m singing
Giving whatcha getting
Knowing what I know
While the Black bands sweatin’
And the rhythm rhymes rollin’
Got to give us what we want (uh)
Gotta give us what we need (hey)
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be

Lemme hear you say
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
We’ve got to fight the powers that be

As the rhythm designed to bounce
What counts is that the rhymes
Designed to fill your mind
Now that you’ve realized the pride’s arrived
We got to pump the stuff to make us tough
From the heart
It’s a start, a work of art
To revolutionize make a change nothing’s strange
People, people we are the same
No we’re not the same
‘Cause we don’t know the game
What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless
You say what is this?
My beloved let’s get down to business
Mental self defensive fitness
(Yo) bum rush the show
You gotta go for what you know
To make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be

Lemme hear you say
Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
We’ve got to fight the powers that be

Fight the power (lemme hear you say)
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
We’ve got to fight the powers that be

Elvis was a hero to most but he
Elvis was a hero to most
Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother fuck him and John Wayne
‘Cause I’m Black and I’m proud
I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped
Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for four hundred years if you check
Don’t worry be happy
Was a number one jam
Damn if I say it you can slap me right here
(Get it) let’s get this party started right
Right on, c’mon
What we got to say (yeah)
Power to the people no delay
Make everybody see
In order to fight the powers that be

Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
Fight the power
We’ve got to fight the powers that be

What have we got to say? (yeah)
Fight the power (yeah, yeah, yeah)

What have we got to say? (yeah)
Fight the power (come on)
What have we got to say? (yeah)
Fight the power (yeah, yeah, yeah)
What have we got to say? (yeah)
Fight the power (come on)

Yo check this out man
OK talk to me about the future of Public Enemy
The future of Public Enemy gotta

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.

Protest 100: Rage Against The Machine – ‘Down Rodeo’

Artist:          Rage Against The Machine

Song:           Down Rodeo

Album:        Evil Empire

Producer:    Brendan O’Brien

Label:          Epic

Year:           1996

Notes:
This song is steeped deep in the class inequalities bared by the 1992 riots in the band’s hometown of Los Angeles. The message: stop pointing your anger at each other, start pointing it at the people running the show. And don’t forget Black Panther Fred Hampton’s death at the hands of the FBI. Just a quiet peaceful dance!

Lyrics:
Yeah I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun

Bangin’ this bolo tight on this solo flight can’t fight alone
Funk tha track my verbs fly like tha family stone
Tha pen devils set that stage for tha war at home
Locked wit out a wage ya standin’ in tha drop zone
The clockers born starin’ at an empty plate
Momma’s torn hands cover her sunken face
We hungry but them belly full
The structure is set ya neva change it with a ballot pull
In tha ruins there’s a network for tha toxic rock
School yard ta precinct, suburb ta project block
Bosses broke south for new flesh and a factory floor
The remains left chained to the powder war

Can’t waste a day when the night brings a hearse
So make a move and plead the fifth ’cause ya can’t plead the first
Can’t waste a day when the night brings a hearse
So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

Yes I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one
So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun

Bare witness to tha sickest shot while suckas get romantic
They ain’t gonna send us campin’ like they did my man Fred Hampton
Still we lampin’ still clockin’ dirt for our sweat
A ballots dead so a bullet’s what I get
A thousand years they had tha tools
We should be takin’ ’em
Fuck tha G-ride I want the machines that are makin’ em
Our target straight wit a room full of armed pawn to
Off tha kings out tha west side at dawn

Can’t waste a day when the night brings a hearse
Make a move and plead the fifth ’cause ya can’t plead the first
Can’t waste a day when the night brings a hearse
So now I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

Yeah I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun
These people ain’t seen a brown skin man
Since their grandparents bought one

Yeah I’m rollin’ down Rodeo wit a shotgun

The rungs torn from the ladder can’t reach the tumour
One god, one market, one truth, one consumer

Just a quiet peaceful dance!
Just a quiet peaceful dance!
Just a quiet peaceful dance!
Just a quiet peaceful dance!

Just a quiet peaceful dance for the things we’ll never have
Just a quiet peaceful dance for the things we don’t have

‘Protest 100’s mission is two-fold: dispelling the myth that heavy metal is a brainless, socially unaware music genre, and raising awareness of the issues facing our country in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. The path won’t be exclusively metal—some punk and rap and other stuff will be in here too, including the classics—and is not a ranking. All songs are songs I’ve heard while putting this list together, ordered in a manner designed to entertain and educate.