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Tom Morello to rage with the machine by launching his own record label

Tom Morello at the 2015 Rock Hall Of Fame; Photo via Getty Images

Someone is trying to be a force for positive change in the world, which means it’s time to make a few jokes at his expense. Entertainment Weekly reports that former Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello is starting his own record label. And, because he seems constitutionally incapable of not giving his projects names befitting an angry 16-year-old, Morello is calling his new enterprise Firebrand Records.

The label is intended as a home for politically-minded musicians focused on social justice, with an initial roster of seven artists from around the world. Ramy Essam, the popular Egyptian performer who was tortured and exiled for his participation in that country’s revolution, is perhaps the most famous name attached. The label has also signed San Francisco’s Built For The Sea, New York’s The Last Internationale and bell’s roar, and Son Of Nun, a Baltimore-based hip-hop artist who operated a medical tent during that city’s riots.


“Every movement for social change needs a great soundtrack,” Morello said, which is just the kind of hammy line that someone would say totally earnestly. “Firebrand Records provides a global megaphone for uncompromising artists fighting for a more just world. Firebrand artists walk the walk, and we are proud to amplify their music and their message.” It’s a noble statement of intent that also nicely doubles as a way to move units, sort of like how businesses sell stuff to metalheads by slapping a skull image on products and calling them “soul-destroying.”

This has been the paradox that Morello and his various projects have traded in since Rage Against The Machine first signed to a major label. His radical politics have always been harnessed to efforts at insinuating himself into the mainstream as much as possible, which is either a smart way to inject activism into popular culture or a cynical cash-in that trades on the image of rebelliousness for fun and profit. If you like the music, it probably looks more like the former than the latter, and vice-versa for those who find his pat sermonizing indigestible. Surely, the launch of Firebrand Records will finally convince everyone to feel the same way, and the world can get the profound social change it so desperately needs. Right after we snidely comment on his net worth being conservatively around $30 million, that is.

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