This is a tribute to various revolutionary American leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
The pioneering rap group Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force wrote this song and were the first to record it. They released it as a single in 1983.
This was the first single from Renegades, which also contains covers of songs by The Stooges, The Rolling Stones, MC5, and Devo.
This was released on election day: November 7, 2000. George W. Bush was the winner, giving the band much more to rage against.
The radio version is shorter than the CD version, running 3:46 vs. 4:35.
One of the foremost innovators of funk music, George Clinton, was asked during a Reddit AMA what he thought of this song. He replied: "Rage Against the Machine is definitely a rock band that can play hip-hop on instruments live. So when they are funky they sound like Super Stupid, that era of Funkadelic. They bad."