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Killing In The Name by Rage Against the Machine

Album: Rage Against The MachineReleased: 1993Charted:
1
  • This song makes the point that some members of the US police force were, and possibly still are, members of the Ku Klux Klan ("Some of those who wear forces are the same that burn crosses"). How legitimate can a power structure or a religion be when the people that compose the operation are in a dark, warped mindset? (thanks, Tim - Pittsburgh, PA)
  • British DJ Bruno Brookes once accidentally played the full, uncensored version (which contains the F-word 16 times) on the BBC Radio 1 Top-40 Chart show. (thanks, Emery - London, England)
  • This was Rage Against The Machine's first single. It got a lot of attention in England when they played it on a TV show called Yoof.
  • This song is featured on one of the Rock radio stations in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
  • Rage Against The Machine performed at Woodstock '99. (thanks, Tim - PGH, PA, for above 2)
  • Rolling Stone named this #24 on their list of the Greatest Guitar Songs. They wrote of this song: "In 1991, a year before rage against the Machine released their debut album, Tom Morello was giving a guitar lesson in his tiny apartment in West Hollywood, teaching his student the hard-rocking riffs that are characteristic of drop-D tuning (in which the lowest string is tuned down to create heavier chords). Because Morello's Telecaster had a locking nut, preventing it from drastic tuning changes, he taught the technique using an Ibanez bass. Said Morello: 'I just came up with the 'Killing in the Name' riff. I stopped the lesson, got my little Radio Shack cassette recorder, laid down that little snippet and then continued with the lesson.' The next day, Morello brought his riff with him to a studio in North Hollywood. 'We were off to the races,' he says. Though Morello points out that the bone-crushing song was a collaborative effort - 'Timmy C.'s magmalike bass, Brad Wilk's funky, brutal drumming and Zack [de la Rocha]'s conviction meld with the guitar' - Killing in the Name introduced the world to Morello's off-kilter attack, which would include substituting an Allen wrench for a pick and slamming the toggle switch like a DJ scratching records. 'We were melding hard rock, punk and hip-hop, and I was the DJ,' he says. 'It allowed me to emulate a lot of noises that I heard on Dr. Dre and Public Enemy records.'" (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • This was featured on Guitar Hero II for Playstation 2 and Xbox 360 with modified lyrics to censor the end of the song. (thanks, Cliff - Burkesville, KY)
  • In December 2009 a London couple, Jon and Tracy Morter, launched on Facebook, the "Rage Against The Machine For Christmas No. 1" campaign, to spur sales of this song. Traditionally the annual race to land the #1 Christmas single in the UK is a seriously major deal and their aim was to propel the track to the top spot and prevent Simon Cowell's choice of winners song for the X-Factor winner getting the festive chart-topper. (Between 2005-08 every Christmas #1 had been by a X-Factor champ.) Simon Cowell spoke out against the Facebook campaign even though the song was released and published by his business partners Sony Music. At a press conference Cowell said: "If there's a campaign, and I think the campaign's aimed directly at me, it's stupid. Me having a number one record at Christmas is not going to change my life particularly. I think it's quite a cynical campaign geared at me that is actually going to spoil the party for these three [X-Factor finalists]". The campaign to have an alternative festive #1 took off after Joe McElderry was announced as the 2009 X-Factor champion and his version of Miley Cyrus' song, "The Climb" as the winner's song. By the end of the week The Rage campaign had mobilised almost a million members and outsold Joe McElderry's ballad by 52,000 copies resulting in this sweary number being the UK's 2009 Christmas #1. It was reported that Cowell offered Jon and Tracy Morter a job at his record label as a result of their victorious campaign.
  • Speaking to BBC 6music about the Morter's Facebook campaign, RATM guitarist Tom Morello said: "This shouldn't be misinterpreted. This is a grass roots effort. It's nothing against the candidates or the guy that runs the show [X-Factor]. A little dose of anarchy for the Christmas holidays is good for the soul. I love the independent spirit of the British rock fans. Your country has a great rich history of cutting-edge, exciting rebel music. Whether it's the early Stones and The Who, or The Clash and The Sex Pistols, or Prodigy and Muse, I think that people are just fed up with being represented every Christmas holiday, being spoon fed some overblown, sugary ballad that sits at the top of the charts."
  • Morello donated some of his earnings from the re-release of this song to Youth Music, a scheme helping young musicians in the UK. He told BBC 6music: "My hope is that one of the results of this whole Christmas season is there'll be a new generation of rockers who will take on the establishment with the music they write." Rage Against The Machine also donated a portion of profits from the track to the homeless charity Shelter.
  • When Rage Against The Machine performed this song live on BBC's 5Live's breakfast show they promised the program's producers that they would not sing the curse words. However after keeping their promise during the first half of their performance during the controversial closing bars vocalist Zack de la Rocha dropped four F-bombs before being abruptly faded out. Presenter Shelagh Fogarty told listeners: "Sorry. We needed to get rid of that because that suddenly turned in to something we were not expecting. Well, we were expecting it and asked them not to do it and they did it anyway - so buy Joe's record."
  • The song was the first single to reach the UK Christmas #1 spot on downloads alone.
  • The re-released single sold 502,000 copies, notching up the biggest one-week download sales total in British chart history.
  • The song's Christmas #1 victory over Joe McElderry cost the UK betting industry over £1 million in payouts. Gary Burton of Coral told the Daily Telegraph that it originally opened with odds of with odds of 150/1 to reach the top position in the Christmas week. "It's the biggest Christmas shock of all time," the Coral spokesman explained, "and although it has cost the industry over £1 million, it at least now keeps the interest going, after The X Factor dominance almost killed off the festive chart betting forever."
  • The burning figure on the Rage Against The Machine album cover was a Mahayana Buddhist monk who torched himself in June 1963 in protest at the South Vietnamese government's religious policies.
  • Following their Christmas #1 with this song, Rage Against The Machine played a free thank-you gig for 40,000 fans at Finsbury Park in London the following summer.
  • Among the fans of this song was the late outlaw comedian Bill Hicks. He was known to close his shows with the tune, a fact which Morello considers to be "a badge of honor."
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Comments: 73

Sometimes racial injustice is so blatant, so heinous (i.e., the KKK and other white supremacists serving in law enforcement), that the only proper response is in-your-face, profanity laden RAGE. The emotion and outrage in this song are palpable. "Fu** you, I won't do what you tell me!". This song is absolute genius.Dave - Fairfax, Va
this song is soooooo addictive =) it conveys everything I yes I stand forChantelle - Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
@Austin, Smallsville,New England, DUDE REALLY!!!! This song with just those words have changed millions of lives. It's because of this song that they are who they are. Revolver was worse than this song.Gember Dinarte - Washington, Dc
It's the No. 1 Pogo-song in Germany.David - Baden-baden, Germany
In regards to the first comment on this page, the lyric is "some of those that work forces", not "wear forces"John - Airdrie, Ab
And yes, he does get the end of the solo a bit wrong.Alex - Caterham, -
Here's a guideline for all of you who wish to learn how to play this song, from Tom Morello himself.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjmsIfkrBxY&feature=related
Alex - Caterham, -
@Justin, Portland, OR. Good luck playing that solo with your feedback method. Believe me, he uses a digitech whammy (WH1) and some alternate picking. There's no killswitch or trem action involved.Alex - Caterham, -
I'm glad RATM was here to tell us all how to think. (sarcasm)Cory - Slippery Rock, Pa
i think rage are one of the most angry bands there are, i mean, theyre called rage man, RAGE! in all seriousness, i met them once and they were all drinking sangyong tea and discussing their favourite colours. tom morello uses a cucumber for the solo. nuff said. i am not tripping.Zach - George Town, Burkina Faso
In my opinion R.A.T.M's weakest song in guitar work and vocalsAustin - Smallsville,new England, --
the guy who asked if ratm is british no they are not british all of them are american and from california L.AKyle - George Town, Cayman Islands
kick ass song!!!!!!Monica - Long Beach ,ca,
This guitar part isn't hard to dissect. It's actually not very hard to play at all, even the solo, as long as you have the equipment. The song is in dropped D tuning, and is in the key of D. The riffs are all fairly simple, but also very fun to play. At the beginning part where the guitar and bass just hit the same chord (D Maj) 4 times he is using an 80s Ibanez DFL flanger to get the "jet" sound you can hear. The solo is done with a Digitech Whammy WH-1 (the original model from the 80s, they are on WH-4 now) which is a pedal that can increase the pitch as you rock it forward. He is pushing it up 2 octaves, which is why it sounds so radical, but if you can get a Whammy pedal and can alt pick on guitar, it's a very easy solo to play.Josh - Fayetteville, Tn
wrong - DJ, Pipestone, CO
he uses feedback from the amp and minipulates the sound with the killswitch and whammy bar

and no, tom morello is not gay
Justin - Portland, Or
is tom morello, the guitarist, GAY??? i heard thatHrtgshrth - Musictown, Philly, Niger
This song is extremely repetitive! But I like it... :)Joey - Rabbidtown, In
Is RATM british? People have told me that before but I wasn't sure it's trueBrandon - Aurora, Il
RATM's political views may be somewhat jurastic, but thier politically charged lyrics are what made them famous.Brandon - Aurora, Il
What do u mean. Every band does. Its not really originalAustin - Smallsville, Ne
What everyone seems to be missing out on is the fact that America, and especially Corporate America is being run by similar people who ran the KKK and other racist movements. The set of minds they have are the same..and RATM are amongst the few people who have the serious balls to talk to americans and their governments this way...u dnt find alot of people who do these days..its a shame.Ghaith - Dubai, Other
Eric (I can't believe I'm saying this) I kind of agree with you. At least the part about making your own discesions. That was a part of my point on the other and I just don't agree with RATM's political views. I'm not saying there aren't any KKK cops but just don't agree with the whole Zapatista revolutionary thig.Michael - Morris County, Nj
First off, Jason from Bakersfield is an ignorant fool and a classic example of a why the rest of the world thinks Americans are idiots and can't think for themselves. Which leads me to my next point...Don't believe what RATM, or anybody at that, tells you. Think for yourself, letting other people think for you is how OUR democracy got hijacked.Eric - San Francisco, Ca
How can a band that has just as many whites as black be racist... thats like saying the association of racial equality (which i just made up) is racist....Connor - Hawkins, Tx
zach is not a racist.... he is simply making a point that alot of legislative motives are racially bias. the only reason weed is illegal was so that the mexican crop workers couldn't smoke it cause white land owners thought it made them lazy. and why dont you take a look at his band, more races in it than the united nations.Skylar - Tahlequah, Ok
i can play this song on the (real)guitar it's sickCory - Rochester, Ny
This song makes me bust in my pants.Jake - Tipton, Mi
i kinda agree that this song is about how religion controls peolple... but i don;t think many people understand what this song is about... because i heard this song at a christian rock concert! this is like the worst song to play at a christian concert.... if you actually listened to the lyrics!Bob - Hippy, Co
The bigger picture gentlemen, forget the words.. Its what Zac is telling us...
Open you're eyes, this song is about hypocrisy.
So many men in power, in the USA (and of course in other nations in this world) abuse the power installed in them by the people (and sometimes not) - Using this power for ulterior motives, personal motives, motives of an elite, influencial and wealthy minority..

rage against the machine.
Word.
Paul - Wellington, New Zealand
GUITAR HERO ROCKS!!!GUITAR HERO ROCKS!!!!GUITAR HERO ROCKS!!!!if you read all these comments starting from the bottom up you know about that jerkoff that said guitar hero sucked,imagine this,a kid buys the game,and he becomes so inspired by the music he decides to start a band,and he writes the next best song that everyone knows and it changes the world,highly unlikely,but i bet face didnt think about that before he typed it.ugh!!!you just got served!!!need some aloe vera for that burn!!!!!oh,dude i am totally trippin on somethin man.Brad - Knoxville, Tn
The sound in the solo is made using a whammy pedalDj - Pipestone, Co
This song is just a really neat song, first of all I REALLY love the guitars here, that guy sure can play and write. The song is basically pretty self explanatory, in the concerts in the second verse he will switch it up and say things like "Some of those that hold office are the same the burn crosses"Dj - Pipestone, Co
gee, for RATM to rail against another cultures imperfections, when the mexican/hispanic culture is riddled with corruption, child molesters...gang members and worse....is hypocrasy at it's best

De La Rocha is a Mecha Racist
Jason - Bakersfield, Ca
I am so sick of people talking about freaking Guitar Hero. Sure it's a pretty sick game but if the only way you remember great songs is by plucking a stupid plastic guitar and pressing color coded buttons you don't deserve to listen to rock.Clay - Reno, Ga
I kill at this song on Guiter Hero II, but besides that, and I'll just repeat what basiclly EVERY comment bellow,and above me say, the songs about authority figures being in the KKK.Me - There, Nj
This is on Guitar Hero.Dylan - Branson, Mo
RATM has it down pack.

,"some of those that run forces, are the same that burn crosses," This can be said for the administration level of any U.S. Lawenforcement department, which trickles down to the men/women in uniform.

"And now you do what they told ya". That can go two ways in my opinion. (1)Generations of hatemongers- from granddad/grandma, father/mother to son/daughers. (Don't forget "Skinheads" aren't from the WWI). (2)Blackmales living up to the Sterotype that they aren't worth much..."and now you do what they told ya".
Petal - Kingston, Ny
They are NOT an anti-white band, they are anti-racism and really anti everything that is wrong with the world! You obviously don't understand what their songs are about if you think they are anti white.Robbie - Stubbington, England
This song is about cops in the south bieng racistsBrady - Bismarck, Nd
Rage Against The Machine were known for short in the UK and most of Europe not as "Rage" but "Rage ATM" or "RATM", as the Anglo-German rock band Rage fronted by Jochen Schroeder (who have been recording since 1984) were not fans of RATM, and did not appreciate RATM hijacking their nameDave - Cardiff, Wales
I think this song is about the KKK cops and i think its kinda funny that everyone things this is such a good solo, its really nothing special. I love the ending, the !@#$ you i wont do what you tell me. It just embodies the "Rage"Jeff - Sothington, Ct
i agree with andrew from toronto, in the video when the guy trys to jump and the gaurd wont let em and zack comes and pushes em outa the way show what rage is all aboutJohn - Chandler, Az
This song is deeper than cops in the KKK. For example, during the 1920's many of americian military servancemen joined the KKK, and marched washington. It is definately about killing in GODS name. in essence police officers, as well as military servicement, are part of the same imperialistic doctrine. they burn crosses, bore crosses. the nations of europe were christian but they were imperialst each struggle to be the ruler of the world, or the CHOSEN WHITES.Clayton Allen - Ny, Ny
Sometimes live they say "some of those that burn crosses, are the same that hold office". There not anti bloody white at all, there anti racist, its just because most racists are white. In my opinion the song essentually talks about people in power being pricks, not just cops, the millitary or polis. The KKK are the very embodiment of prickness, so saying that those in power are involved with the KKK is pretty much saying most authoritarians are pricks. Its at its core, a classic anthem against the establishment, with the great cresendo at the end. Simple and classic.Tom - Melbourne, Australia
Im in my 40's & dont really get into stuff too heavy but this is a song that hits you like a sledgehammer. For some reason, which I dont really care about annalysing, I enjoy this one. Love playin it flat out while drivin in my truck & the missus isnt with me. For what its worth I reckon the meaning is cops who are kkk members.Dan - Renmark, Australia
Hey Tim from Pittsburgh just because people in the kkk have some stupid idea that they are doing what they do in gods name or whatevcr doesnt mean they are. Alot of stupid crap gets carried out in gods name,like war,killing,murder,etc..... but it doesnt mean he actually said to do it.Josh - Levelland, Va
This song could be aim at the police. SOme of those that joined "forces." But i was watching something on the history channel, where after world war 1 there was a rise in the KKK. The forces, could be representing, the soldiers who died in world war 1. After world war 1 the KKK marched washington. They were soldiers who fought in the war. IS this what they were representing? Also bore and burn could be the same thing. they are boring the cross, as in putting holes in it, by doing what their told and not thinking what is right. This would be really good if there could be footage of this, of the KKK, marching washington. WW1 footage, and footage of cops in the KKK and the rodney king beatings, if someone could put that together it would be really sweet. and powerful, if a video could be made like that.Clayton Allen - Ny, Ny
the comment about tom morrello not writing rage's guitar riffs is totally false. Morrello wrote the opening riff to "Bombtrack" when he was nineteen kept it on a tape recorder, as well as almost every other riff he has wrote. Just read the Guitar World issue for august 2005. Also, your comment about Audioslave's new album being "crap" for "sounding nothing like rage" is a close minded comment. Audioslave is a whole different band with a different style than rage. Personally, I'm glad they have a different style, because if they sounded just like rage, they would just be replacing Zach with another singer, and I'm sure that every rage fan would agree that Zach is not replaceable.Jake - Scottsdale, Az
This song to me is definitely about cops who are racists. And how they are supposed to be enforcing but how can they do so when theyre minds are so screwed. I agree with whoever said this before me.Alex - Narberth, Pa
i believe this song is a little more about the rascism that some cops have but how in their minds its the right thing, i mean the title of the song is killing in the name of, so it would seem to me that the song would be more about people who believe and follow one set of morals yet go out and do the opposite, and just the general hypocracy of the government, but thats just my 2 centsBrandon - Panama City, Other
they have one of the greatest guitarists the world has ever seen (who has produced some of the most awesome riffs ever) and they are and extremely high selling band.
- Brendan, Hobart, Australia

RATM is is one of the greatest bands of all time. however, tom morello didnt write rage's riffs--it was all zach. Zach is a sick guitarist, which a lot of people dont know. notice how audioslave's first album sound like rage's riffs? those are prolly left over riffs that rage never recorded. Audioslave's second album (or single, whatever) is crap and sounds nothing like rage. use your head, guys--ratm is nothing without zach de la rocha.
Jeremy - Los Angeles, Ca
It is about the racist cops of the fifies that were in the KKK, and stopped all the marches and beet the people protesting.Steven - Middleboro, Ma
Rage isn't against white people. Try listening to the lyrics next time X_x. Rage WOULD be against white people if all of them were corrupt. But they're not all corrupt. Rage is talking about Corrupt people, dink. It just so happens that throughout history, white people have more than often been the person in power who is performing corrupt deeds.
Second of all, not all of the members of Rage are white any way. -_-
Josh - Chicago, Il
this is confusing, i have a music score book thingy, and in the lyrics it says "some of those who were forces, are the same that bore crosses", and "and now they do whatthey taught ya". however it sounds like what everyone else is saying "some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses" and "and now you do what they told ya". odd, but i think the song is about racist police.John - Glasgow, Scotland
How can they be against white people? It would be hypocritical... as there are white people in the band, and they're against racism and social injustice... I don't get it.Linda - Norfolk, England
This song was written on earth.

Comparing what lyrics mean to eachother makes about as much difference as the dump I took last night. Rage against the machine is one of the greatest and most creative, talented, and influential bands ever. What Zach says does matter but its not that, its why, and how he says it that makes all the difference. The band completely defines what they mean in this songs music video at the climax of the song. A slow motion shot of Zach forcing a stage guard to let go of a fan that just wanted to jump off stage into the crowd. Thats who they are. Themselves for no other but the ones who respect them.
Andrew - Toronto, Canada
This song was features in the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.Faz - Canberra, Australia
This song is obviously about racist cops. Burning crosses is a reference to the KKK, as well as "Wearing the badge with your chosen white." The badge represents the police and the white represents the KKK's white robes.Jack - St. Paul, Mn
On the cd 'Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium' they say also 'Some of those that burn crosses are the same that hold office'.Bavo - Oostrozebeke, Belgium
I was wrong. They are comparing the LAPD to the KKK, not military leaders. Zach de la Rocha is refering to the racist cops that beat up Rodney King, and all of the other corrupt and racist cops in Los Angeles.Joe - Racine, Wi
Rambling and incoherent, this makes a joke out of the idea of intelligent lyrics. Yes, we all know lots of evil crimes have been committed by white people and religious people, no doubt about it. But there's *some* good done by those groups too, this song just rants on the negative without proposing any solutions, and there's no *music* to match the oversimplified lyrics. Just noise.Chris - Port Hawkesbury, Canada
Luke, how can they be anti-white when there are white ppl in they're band?Dddd - K Nap, Nc
Audioslave is awesome! Great mix, the voice of Chris Cornell from Soundgarden with RATM.Izzy - Vernon Hills, Il
I haven't heard a lot of audioslave but i must admit "Show Me How To Live" is one of my all time fav songs (even though the solo is one of the most pissweak attempts ever)Brendan - Hobart, Australia
I'll admit that I'm not a big fan of Rage's anti-white folks lyrics, but they do have some awesome songs. Personally, I like Audioslave better.Luke - Martin, Tn
by the way guys, you've all got the words wrong its: "some of those that work forces are the same that burnt crosses" and "now you do what they told ya" (that last one is the most obvious rage line) and to that d***head who said RATM are the worst band ever, try forming a band and play music as influentual, entertaining, politically minded and bloody well awesome as they did. $50 says you could never shut down wall street for and afternoon or have the guts to protest anything and everything you believe is wrong and unlawful, half the guys in this band have even been to jail for protesting. they have one of the greatest guitarists the world has ever seen (who has produced some of the most awesome riffs ever) and they are and extremely high selling band.Brendan - Hobart, Australia
For me its talking about the crimes in the name of religion in general not only the kkk because he says " now you do what they taught ya!"so it's also talking about the control religion has over people and how it affects them in forms of prejudice ,Racisism , etc .And of course throught history religion has had its share of armies (acted like some kind of police) and alway aligns with the most powerful one so it could talk about the christian church and cops as well who knows and remember the kkk as i understand back their actions also with the bible so anything goes in this song for me .Leonardo - Montevideo, South America
RATM's songs sound dfferent - Bulls On Parade sound different to This track and this track sounds different to Freedom which sounds different to Sleep Now In The Fire...

Rage are a superb band and a great voice for politics...
Luke - Manchester, England
Ugh. Worst band ever. No sense of humor, and all their songs sound alike - yelling and bitching and whining. Please, Zach, write a song about, I don't know, a puppy or something.Ted - Los Angeles, Ny
The song is really comparing military leaders to the KKK when they say,"some of those that run forces, are th same that burn crosses," not the cops!Joe - Racine, Wi
They are comparing military leaders to the KKK, not the cops!Joe - Racine, Wi
hey kenneth from ny, he says"some of those who work forces." AKA cops. " Are the same that burn crosses." aka the kkk.Alasdair - Michigan, Mi
Is it "some of those that were enforcers"??? I thought this song was about KKK cops.Kenneth - New York, Ny