Living Colour – 'Cult Of Personality'

Traffic sucks, so why not start your morning off with some music? You provide the toast and we’ll provide the jams.


“Cult Of Personality” popped into my head because, on this long weekend in which we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I have been revisiting the civil rights movement a little bit. And this track famously opens with a sample of a Malcolm X speech, so, here we are.

But the message of the song itself is more relevant now than ever. An excerpt on the backstory from Louder:

“That cool riff had a Zeppelin-ish vibe, but also a Mahavishnu Orchestra thing going on,” [Living Colour guitarist guitarist Vernon] Reid recalls. “It was based on a series of notes that Corey had sung – my attempt to repeat that [on guitar]. I already had the lyrics, but with the music in place it very quickly took on a life of its own.” The use of sampled speeches from John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X and Franklin D. Roosevelt enhanced the political agenda of a song which seemed to denounce idolatry, reminding us how politicians always let down the common man. Cult Of Personality was about celebrity, but on a political level,” Reid explains. “It asked what made us follow these individuals who were larger than life yet still human beings. Aside from their social importance, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King both looked like matinee idols. That was a strong part of why their messages connected. Even now it’s why Barack Obama has that certain something.”

That same article also includes the quote: “Tom Morello [of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave] once told me that he had been thinking about forming a band when Cult Of Personality came out – it prompted him to do so,” Reid says proudly. “We were part of a genuine cultural change.”

That rocks. Anybody have other Living Colour songs they like?

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles



Because we’ve beaten irony senseless and locked it in the basement, this song is a favorite of my Trump-loving step-father.