Download Zack de la Rocha – “digging for windows” (prod. by EL-P) From Forthcoming Solo Album


“Thanks to the late Manuel Alvarez Bravo for creating the cover art photo,” – Zack de la Rocha

When I first heard Rage Against The Machine it had to be within the first few months of their debut CD being released at the end of 1992.  My older brother had been given a fee promotional copy at the iconic/now-defunct Seattle club, The Vogue, where local acts like Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Alice In Chains all famously used to perform, which almost makes sense, considering that, although they definitely weren’t a “grunge” act, it had to be difficult to know what to file them under, or where/if they would gain their appeal, at the time.  Months later, when Alice In Chains (along with Primus, Fishbone, Dinosaur Jr, etc.) performed at Lollapalooza, Rage was the opening act for the entire on the main stage lineup and, while I had the benefit of that early preview, most attendees weren’t there to see them, if they had even shown up that early, at all.  I was only about 14-years-old back then, and it’s true that there was a ton of shit that I had yet to be exposed to musically — in fact, this was among my first few ever live concert experiences — still, their sound was something completely new to me; it didn’t quite sound like anything that I’d ever heard before.  Understand that their self-titled album came out almost a full year prior to Judgement Night, not to mention well before a horrific flood of rap metal garbage would be spawned in response to the influential soundtrack.  Not only was the instrumentation unorthodox, both for rap, as well as rock/metal, but vocalist, Zach de La Rocha‘s delivery didn’t align with any typical hip hop boom bap flow, either.  Whether you loved them or didn’t, they seemed to exist in two different worlds, while never really existing anywhere but their own.

If anyone felt the compulsion to attempt dividing the sum of their parts in an effort to discern whether or not they were simply a rap project featuring a live band, or rather some funk-metal/punk hybrid with a vocalist that would venture into speedier rap cadences, the dissections were never too clean — the same difficulties existed as with the historically touchy procedures to separate conjoined twins: both sides shared some vital organs.  From where I stood, Rage seemed to be more widely embraced by the alternative rock set, so it was cool whenever de la Rocha could be found popping up on projects that were unquestionably within the confines of rap and hip hop territory, like his collab with KRS-One and The Last Emperor from Lyricist Lounge Vol 1,  or the remake of Public Enemy‘s “Burn Hollywood Burn” that he did with Chuck D and The Roots for the Bamboozled soundtrack.

The release of a proper solo album was in the works even prior to his departure from RATM, due to “creative difference,” at the end of 2000, but nothing ever came of it.  Both DJ Shadow and EL-P have mentioned producing material for a de la Rocha project around that time, while fellow hip-hop heavyweights like Dan The Automator (Dr Octagon, Gorillaz, Handsome Boy Modeling School), DJ Muggs (Cypres Hill, GZA), ?uestlove (The Roots, etc), & DJ Premier (Gang Starr, PRhyme, etc.) have also been tied to the project.  It sounded as if there was enough material to release a full album, and that it was even “good,” but the narrative was that Zack wasn’t interested in signing off on it.  A short time later, Trent Reznor took on production duties, resulting in 20-or-so cuts that also remained shelved, never materializing into anything official.  Teasers showcasing the potential of what could have been would leak out over the last/following decade-and-a-half, via brand new tracks, with Zack jumping on a DJ Shadow 12-inch for the 2003 anti-Iraq War song, “March Of Death,” and working with Reznor on “We Want It All” for the compilation, Songs And Artists That Inspired Farenheit 9/11, the following year.  Additional appearances would occasionally pop up over the years, along with a 2007 Rage Against The Machine reunion and the 2008 formation of the group One Day As A Lion with drummer, Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta, Queens Of The Stone Age, Life Coach), but it was a prominent feature on the track, “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck),” from Run The Jewels‘s 2014 sophomore effort, RTJ2, that really lit a spark and felt like somewhat of a resurgence for de la Rocha, at least within a more straight ahead rap and hip-hop context, forcing one to speculate about the potential of what could be yielded by him pursuing that direction further.

Today, we were sent a brand new track titled “digging for windows,” foreshadowing Zack de la Rocha‘s first official full-length solo album, which is being promised a release sometime next year.  Building on the success of his work with RTJ, this new cut was produced by EL-P, and features Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Zwan, Current 93, Bonnie ‘Prince’ BIlly) on guitar with electronic dj/producer, Nick Hook manning the keys.  As of now, it is being suggest that EL — who, initially, rejected the idea of taking on Killer Mike‘s critically acclaimed R.A.P. Music, after placing his his label, Definitive Jux on indefinite hiatus to focus on his own work —  may, actually, have produced the entirety of Zack‘s upcoming LP.  Details are still limited, but EL-Producto did reveal the following snippets of information via his twitter account.


And now we wait….

For the time being, you can listen and download “digging for windows” below.

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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