“Dangerous times demand dangerous songs,” said Tom Morello in a recent interview with Rolling Stone. We couldn’t agree more.

There is a very good reason why Morello, along with B-Real from Cypress Hill, Chuck D from Public Enemy and Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk of Rage Against The Machine decided to form the supergroup Prophets of Rage. The world needs the protest music of the kind created by these artists now more than ever. Prophets of Rage are taking the summer of 2016 by storm, and with the return of these songs comes with it the reinvigorated interest in what Morello likes to call, “Rebel Music.”

In June of 2015, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave/The Nightwatchmen) created Firebrand Records; a record label specifically geared toward artists with a political and social conscience. “The label gives you one-stop shopping for all your rebel music needs,” he said in an interview with Rolling Stone last year. “In these troubled times, successful social movements always require a great soundtrack — and we aim to provide it.”

Rock n’ roll and politics have always gone hand-in-hand. From the struggles that are ingrained in rock n’ roll’s blues roots, through the protest songs of the 1960’s and the punk explosion of the late-70’s, to this very day. Rock n’ roll music has always been there to protest, subvert, rebel and to rage against social and political injustices.

These are no doubt very political days in which we live. Yet at times, it seems as if the popular music, which traditionally is there to reflect turbulent times such as these, has been mysteriously absent in recent years.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, rebel music defined a generation. From pioneers of the early-60’s folk scene such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Phil Ochs — to the anti-war songs of the latter end of the decade and early-70’s; politically conscious popular music changed not only an entire nation, but the entire world. It proved that music with a message, if given a proper platform, was a force that could create real change. And it is this kind of force, that gets people in positions of power uncomfortable.

After this time, radicalism predominantly faded away from popular music in America. While the 80’s and 90’s had their fair share of incredibly important protest songs, it was nothing compared to the tsunami of consciousness created by the counter-culture of previous decades. By the late-90’s, in a world of musical plasticity, it seemed there was nowhere left to go for meaningful music. The circling of the drain only continued after 9/11, and the dark days of the second Bush administration. This was a time when subversive music was frequently banned from radio and other media outlets, and at times removed from circulation altogether. Bands like Rage Against The Machine, Rammstein and System Of A Down were forced to cancel tours and/or had their songs and music videos banned from radio and television. Even good ol’ American groups like The Dixie Chicks were put on blast because of their anti-war stance. These were indeed terrifyingly Orwellian times.

As a result, meaningful rock n’ roll had all but disappeared from the mainstream. Pre-packaged, manufactured pop stars would dominate the popular music world for nearly two decades. However during this time, there remained an undercurrent of musicians and artists who decided to keep their political conscience alive and thriving. This article serves to highlight some of the best politically-charged music from the post-9/11 era. The music that despite being outshined by the florescent glow of mainstream pop slop, continues to be the ever-living heartbeat of integrity and rebellion that still pumps vigorously through today’s rock music scene. This is a 20-song list (in no particular order) of some of the standout tracks from the past 15 years that kept the fires of art and rebellion burning strong.

20. We Don’t Stop (2003) – Michael Franti & Spearhead:

Musician, activist, poet, singer/songwriter Michael Franti has never been one to shy away from social and political issues. This funky anti-war anthem from his 2003 album titled Everyone Deserves Music was ahead of it’s time with it’s impervious war-resisting message. The upbeat get-up-and-jump pace and hip-hop styled lyrics create a treasure trove of brightly composed poetic brilliance. Give it a listen!

19. No More (Live) (2008) – Eddie Vedder and Ben Harper:

Just two days before the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Eddie Vedder along with Iraq War veteran Thomas Young hand-selected a collection of both current and classic anti-war songs, to create a compilation album entitled Body of War: Songs that Inspired an Iraq War Veteran. The record also served as a soundtrack for the 2007 documentary Body Of War. Veteran Thomas Young called the assortment of songs his “personal soundtrack for Iraq.” “The songs that I selected for the record were tracks that inspired, motivated, and at times, literally saved me over the past few years” Young said. “No More” was the one and only song on the record specifically written for the film. It is a song that Eddie Vedder has personally dedicated to Iraq War veteran Thomas Young; who has since become a spokesperson for IVAW (Iraq Veterans Against the War).

18. Marching on Ferguson (2014)- Tom Morello:

In wake of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, which came as a result of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in the summer of ‘14, Tom Morello rushed this single out to the masses. Standing in unflinching solidarity with the protesters of Ferguson, this song was a fierce protest song reminiscent of the old days of Rage Against The Machine. All profits from the single were donated to the cause of bailing Ferguson protesters out of jail and supporting the frontlines of the budding Black Lives Matter movement.

17. We Called It America (2009) – NOFX:

Love them or hate them, California’s NOFX is responsible for some of the last remaining great punk rock out there. Not to mention the political lyricism from the hedonistic singer/bassist known as Fat Mike. There are lots of selections to choose from, but this track from the band’s 2009 album Coaster deserves your attention. With lines like, “Remember when America had a middle-class and an upper class? That was way before the exodus. That was the America that we thought was number one,” it would be a shame to overlook this gem of late-2000’s punk rock.

16. Dear Mr. President (2010) – Fitz and the Tantrums:

Fitz and the Tantrums have changed their sound a lot over the years, but in 2010, they released their neo-soul masterwork Pickin’ Up The Pieces. The entire album is worth a listen, but this hit track was also an important political statement. “Dear Mr. President,” a song about poverty, addiction and economic inequality struck a chord with present day troubles many people are living with. You can truly hear the fire in lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick’s belly as he fervently sings the culminating line “Dear Mr. President, put your foot down!”

15. Road to Peace (2006) – Tom Waits:

“Road to Peace” is an anti-war song from Tom Waits’ three-disc masterpiece known as Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards. The song tackles the hot-button Israel/Palestine conflict with a blunt and poetic brilliance that could only come from the prosaic mind of Tom Waits. “Maybe God himself is lost and needs help. And he’s lost upon the road to peace.”

14. Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher) (2010) – Gogol Bordello:

Since the early 2000’s, multi-cultural gypsy punks, Gogol Bordello have built themselves a well-deserved reputation as one of the most exciting bands to see live today. This is no doubt, by and large, thanks to charismatic frontman Eugene Hutz, who’s untamed spirit and electric personality could give an adrenaline rush to a dead man. This track off of their seventh album Trans-Continental Hustle, speaks for the unheard voices of today’s immigrants. With rabble-rousing energy and truth-telling lyrics like, “In corridors full of teargas, our destinies change every day. Like deleted scenes from Kafka, flushed down the bureaucratic drain. But if you give me the invitation, to hear the bells of freedom chime. To hell with your double standard, we comin’ rougher every time,” this song carries with it an extremely powerful message, which should resonate deeply with all people of the world.

13. Evolve (2003) – Ani DiFranco:

When you examine the words of Ani DiFranco’s “Evolve” from her 2003 album of the same name, it becomes abundantly clear DiFranco had her finger on the pulse of the counter-culture message of the time. From environmental concerns, to marijuana, to prisons, to religious fundamentalists, to war and corporate greed; “Evolve” covers all the bases. Not to mention, Ani’s infectious vocal performance and impeccable guitar work which is nothing short of remarkable.

12. Boom (2003) / B.Y.O.B. (2005) – System of a Down:

It was tough to choose just one song from System of a Down‘s latter years. Following the band’s post-9/11 hiatus, Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian and John Dolmayan returned with a vengeance. “Boom,” from their comeback record Steal This Album is an incredibly compelling and moving anti-war opus. “Modern globalization, coupled with condemnations, unnecessary death, matador corporations puppeting your frustrations with a blinded flag, manufacturing consent is the name of the game, the bottom line is money, nobody gives a fuck, 4,000 hungry children leave us per hour from starvation, while billions are spent on bombs, creating death showers.” You can’t get more in-your-face than that.

“B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bombs)” is the standout single from their 2005 double-release Mezmerize/Hypnotize. Arguably one of the most popular rock songs of the year, this track was a rare anti-war smash hit, in a time where most music of this ilk was being swept under the rug. “Why don’t presidents fight the war, why do they only send the poor?” begs a wailing Serj Tankian as the song builds to a ferocious conclusion.

11. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (2006) – The Flaming Lips:

This cheerful hit song doesn’t seem like a political song, but it most certainly is. “If you could blow up the world with the flick of a switch, would you do it,” Wayne Coyne asks in the opening verse. “If you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich, would you do it?” Rumors had circulated following the song’s release, suggesting that the lyrics were written about president George W. Bush, however singer Coyne has made it known that the lyrics are written about the abuse of power in general, and not about Bush in particular. Either way, this song is an essential addition to this list.

“With all your power, what would you do?”

10. Rich Man’s War (2004) – Steve Earle:

In 2004, Country singer/songwriter, Steve Earle released his Grammy winning anti-war/anti-Bush record, The Revolution Starts Now. Since the early 2000’s, Earle had completely pulled back the shade on his staunch Leftist views, and he certainly didn’t walk on eggshells about it. The title track was used in promos for the controversial new Michael Moore film of the time, Fahrenheit 9/11, but “Rich Man’s War” also strikes a deep and noteworthy chord. As of recent, he has continued his progressive fight with a song called “Mississippi, It’s Time,” a song about the removal of the Confederate Flag as the state flag. All proceeds of the song went to the Southern Poverty Law Center; a civil rights organization located in Montgomery, Alabama.

9. Ignorance Is Bliss (2004) – Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains:

One of Les Claypool’s many side-projects, Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains consisted of Claypool, Buckethead, Brian ‘Brain’ Mantia and Bernie — no, not that Bernie — Bernie Worrell. Claypool gets extremely political in this song which hurls daggers at George W. Bush. “Straight from the video store, Billy’s marching off to war. I heard they called our Lady Liberty a greasy little whore. Well, the market’s on the boil, we’re down a couple quarts of oil, and the President’s reacting like an old near-sighted mohel.” Definitely a priceless nugget of the Claypool catalogue.

8. Moneyland (2008) – Del McCoury Band & Friends:

Del McCoury’s Moneyland album was a colossal collaboration of musical kinfolk, with contributions from artists such as Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Bruce Hornsby and more. The title track is a scathing attack on Wall Street and corporate greed. The lyrics embody everything the Occupy movement was all about. “It’s a pity to see, when the land of the free, turned out to be, nothing but a free-for-all. If you got big dough, you’re freer than most, ‘cause your freedom goes up, with the size of your bankroll,” sings McCoury. “It’s a money disease, it’s a thing called greed, and it feeds on those who need the money most, in Moneyland. It ain’t so funny when you ain’t got no money, in Moneyland.”

7. Freedom (2002) – Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe:

Beginning with some spoken word poetry that paints images of slavery and oppression, the song then launches into a dynamic and energetic jam. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe raises the roof while raising some important questions. “What is freedom when it comes at a cost?” The politically-charged poetics of Saul Williams and Michael Franti are added to the mix as well, and bring the unbridled energy of this song to life. It’s a freedom-loving political party — no pun intended.

6. Alright (2015) – Kendrick Lamar:

Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly was not only a groundbreaking hip-hop album, it was a musical milestone. It’s one of those albums that flawlessly encapsulates the culture, politics and overall spirit of a particular time and place. With the Black Lives Matter movement in full swing, and an historic election season just about to begin; this record was a defining moment in hip-hop history. Music has always been a reflection of what is happening in society, and when anti-police-brutality demonstrations were spreading across the nation, protesters began chanting the refrain from the spirit-lifting hit track, “Alright.” “We gonna be alright — we gonna be alright,” the young protesters would often chant. It was a beautiful snapshot in a time of defiant perseverance. The universal language of music spoken directly in the face of appalling oppression. Pure beauty.

5. Let’s Impeach The President (2006) – Neil Young:

In 2006, toward the latter end of the George W. Bush administration, Neil Young rush-released this Grammy nominated protest album of what he would call “metal folk protest music.” The album was called Living with War, and much like his protest classic “Ohio” from June of 1970, this record was written in an incredibly short amount of time, and rushed to release. Young’s urgency to release the record wasn’t a surprise, as he has always been known to be extremely passionate regarding social, environmental and political issues. With the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at their most bloody, this record was a bold and rebellious call for peace during a time of shameless nationalism and seemingly endless confrontation.

4. Bu$hleaguer (2002) – Pearl Jam:

Remember, folks — Eddie Vedder was against the war way before it was cool. Back in 2002, the war drums were pounding with deafening force, and any voices of dissent were often quickly quelled by jingoistic jeers and the insufferably vociferous chants of U.S.A. — U.S.A. — U.S.A.

During the Riot Act tour, Vedder would regularly perform their song “Bu$leaguer” while wearing a rubber George W. Bush mask, which was often met with boos from the audience who were obviously too swept up in patriotic pro-war pride to think twice about what we all were getting ourselves into. However, in times such as these, there are always those few rebellious voices, such as Vedder’s, that go against the grain, and open our eyes and minds to a more righteous way.

3. Rich Man’s World (2011) – Immortal Technique:

Immortal Technique’s “Rich Man’s World” from his 2011 album, The Martyr, as well as the Occupy This Album compilation is, in all seriousness, the Mount Everest of songs about corporate greed. This truly could’ve been the official anthem for the Occupy movement, if there was one. Every single lyric punches you in the face with unchecked defiance. Sung from the perspective of the 1%, these highly insidious lyrics will make your blood boil, enough to inspire you to take to the streets and demand for ourselves a better world. The song begins with a monologue from the 1976 satirical film, Network, then explodes into the rapid-fire, tongue-twisting vocal delivery that so naturally flows from this political hip-hop heavyweight. Every word is worth listening to.

2. When the President Talks to God (2006) – Bright Eyes:

From the brilliant lyrical mind of singer/songwriter Conor Oberst comes this exceptionally-crafted folk song which eviscerates former President George W. Bush. “When the President talks to God, are the conversations brief or long? Does he ask to rape our women’s rights, or send poor farm kids off to die? Does God suggest an oil hike, when the President talks to God?” sings an impassioned Conor Oberst. The ominous twang of acoustic guitar only adds to the poignancy of the lyrics, which cut right through to the bone. “When the President talks to God, does he ever think that maybe he’s not? That that voice is just inside his head, when he kneels next to the presidential bed? Does he ever smell his own bullshit, when the President talks to God?”

1. Ohmerica (2016) – The Claypool Lennon Delirium:

We’ll end with the most recent. The Claypool Lennon Delirium, which is made up of Les Claypool (Primus) and Sean Lennon (The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger) is without a shadow of a doubt, going to go down as one of the greatest records of the year. This track, primarily sung by Lennon, is a politically-charged psychedelic work of mastery. It’s a cleverly-crafted attack on government secrecy and mass surveillance. “We’re reading your mail, and tapping your phones, and if you don’t like it, we’ll send in the drones” sings Lennon, with echoing remnants of his father lingering within. Claypool is the yin to Lennon’s yang, as this first collaboration of these two modern-day psychedelic Goliaths is a mind-blowing musical excursion not to be ignored.

These twenty songs are just the tip of the iceberg, as far as finding important and meaningful political music goes nowadays. But if you’re looking for a place to start, these songs are a highly-encouraged suggestion.

Whether it be the old folk songs that sang for worker’s rights, the anti-war protest songs of the 60’s/70’s, the societal and systemic slammings of the 70’s/80’s punk rock scene, the feminist riot grrrl bands of the 90’s, or the twenty songs listed above; music will always be there to serve as a mirror image of the world in which we live. Music is all about connection. When art and rebellion are combined, the result is absolutely dazzling. Whether you realize it or not, these songs connect us all. And when we all become one, we are capable of anything.

So, I’ll close with four simple yet accurate words of Mr. Zack de la Rocha of the late great, Rage Against The Machine: “Anger is a gift.”

Written by Joseph Conlon