It’s safe to say that The Prodigy are a force of nature; that much should be clear even to those outisde of their usual circles (hello, that’s me). Their music has successfully crossed fortified borders within the musical scene where nobody thought it could be done, and they just ran on through them head first, with no consideration or fucks to give whatsoever. Their 1997 masterpiece The Fat of the Land is a testament to that boundless energy and free spirit, and it stil stands as a landmark achievement of ’90s electronica.
The Fat of the Land changed the electronic music scene for the better, and has paved the way in one way for countless genres and artists to seize their moment. Yet, nothing can really come close to the continuous barrage of bangers contained on The Fat of the Land. The first five tracks get you moving like no other album can, with barrages of sound filled with so much energy it is impossible to stay still. The rest? Strap in – they don’t slow down with the hits, but in my opinion nothing can beat the first five.
The Prodigy were the defining electronic artist of my childhood, and spawned a eternal love for IDM, glitch, and above all, big-beat. This week has been righteous, pairing multiple playthroughs of this beast with the blinding sunshine. Car speakers, big systems, and headphones have pummelled my ear drums with the thumping rave tunes of The Prodigy, and I couldn’t be happier.
“Diesel Power”, my favourite from the record, is the absolute go to with any new soundsystem. You just bought a new Sonos rig? Fucking great, let’s stick on a 25 year-old album and see how it sounds. The bass is otherworldly, the emcee flow sublime. Seeing the track live at Reading Festival 2009 embedded it as one of my favourite dance tracks of all time. The power of the bass in the track was incomparable to anything I’ve seen or heard since, with the air vibrating around the thousands of revellers.
Throughout the majority of the tracks you can expect to hear massive bass, but coupled with brilliantly choreographed layers that ebb and flow, shifting the dance groove all over the place. The smart, frenetic drums raise the tempo brilliantly, the garage influences creating an intensely fun and bouncy atmosphere throughout a number of tracks. “Firestarter” is arguably one the best tracks the band put out; the complex and ingenious track is very hard to beat.
The Prodigy never beat this magnum opus, but have continued for the past 25 years to excite and delight with their extensive catalogue, which holds up so well versus modern electronic music. When people talk about legendary British bands, The Prodigy will always be top five for me. Get out in the sun and stick this on.
Dylan Nicole Lawson
The Fat of the Land was always a fun album I discovered as a kid, being very much in my youth at the time of its release. I feel like this is one of those albums that, as a child, I just listened to, thought was awesome, and that’s all I needed to enjoy it. That’s not to say in older age, we still won’t have at least the occasional album or two that gets this sort of innocent adoration, but this difference with how I consume music now as opposed to then is entirely in the articulations, and how I recognize the details.
Undeniable pioneers of big beat, The Prodigy earned massive critical acclaim, topping the UK Albums Chart and US Billboard 200. As of 2019, it cleared over 10 million copies sold. So basically, if you consider metrics and commercial accreditations as telling factors of success – this album definitely had it. For all those that hone more in on the merits of the music itself – it still had it. The kick-ass mix of Howlett’s keen ear for beats and a punky attitude crossed over with rave-style electronics is just nearly impossible to not bob your head to.
A personal favorite, “Serial Thrilla”, almost summarizes not only this album but who Prodigy are in their prime to me, and this isn’t even exactly their ‘best’ song. Something about the heavy drumming along with multiple aggressive noises and Flint’s vocal work all make for a pumping mix that you could mosh and dance to all in one place. Almost every song on this record hold a similar vibration to it in that regard, too, all while making you feel like you’re in a late-‘90s sci-fi action film listening to it while on your next run at your pizza delivery job. “Breathe” creates a similar feeling for me, personally, and that is probably largely due to its use in a number of film soundtracks from around the early 2000’s. Listening to this song in particular always makes me want to play Tekken or Mortal Kombat.
The loss of Keith Flint in 2019 was definitely a heartache felt by many as well. I don’t exactly subscribe to the ‘when someone dies – that’s when they’re loved for their work’ sort of mentality, but I do realize an added layer of sentiment now present since his passing while listening to this and all other Prodigy albums spanning their career while Flint was still with us. I remember reading a quote from a popular BMX’er (whose name I unfortunately cannot immediately recall) talking on his Instagram story about an off-chance him and his crew got to not only catch The Prodigy live, but also meet Flint. The unnamed BMX’er recounted talking with Keith backstage with some friends and asking him ‘what’s the best part about being a rockstar?’, to which Flint simply replied with probably one of my most favorite things ever:
‘Getting to perform in front of hundreds of thousands of people all screaming lyrics back at you that you wrote in your bedroom ages ago.’
R.I.P. Keith Flint, and long live The Prodigy!
I remember my first day of sixth grade, wearing my forest green The Prodigy shirt with its iconic ant logo to the left. I was so happy and proud to show off my musical preferences with such edge that only an 11-year-old can exhibit. I was instantly gatekept by some wank named Aaron Krueger, and taunted for not knowing the lyrics to “Fuel My Fire” as he screamed them at me in an attempt to call me a poser. White dudes in the ’90s were a trip…
Twenty-five years later, and Aaron mostly likely forgot all about that (he’ll never be as rad as me anyway), but this shit is still amazing and sounds manic as hell. I’ve always had a penchant for specific timeless classics that capture a certain zeitgeist of time and never loses its shine. The Prodigy put this out in the height of the big beat generation, with one slight difference from their counterparts. While The Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim, and the Chemical Brothers were making strictly club music, The Prodigy wanted to soundtrack shit to break windows, catch shit on fire, and outrun the cops. You can’t reap the rewards if you don’t push the envelope, and this album fucking obliterated it, blurring the lines between big beat techno, industrial aggression, and punk edge.
I can see a lot of influence permeating from this release even more so now that we’re in the age of glitch-hop, techno black metal, and new wave industrial acts, but for whatever reason there’s not enough praise for how much of a standout album this was for that decade. I vividly remember how excited I was when I saw the video for “Breathe”, but along with that excitement came fear and concern as I saw the wild ass dual mohawk maniac and absolutely out of this world alien Maxim barking lyrics at me while flailing around in amazing reservation abolition fashion. I was enthralled. In reflecting on this, I realized that experience laid the groundwork for an appreciation of other personally coveted musicians that frightened and delighted me, but still remain my favorites to this day (I’m looking at you, Dreijer siblings and Mr. Reznor).
Starting out an album with such controversy before the internet was always a feat in itself, but “Smack My Bitch Up” caught the world’s attention in protest and channeled zesty defiance from the group. You’d expect the rest of the album to slow down after that, but somehow shit picks up from there in the equivalent of a drug-fueled fever dream with “Breathe”, “Diesel Power”, “Funky Shit”, “Serial Thriller”, and “Mindfields” (I could name out the rest of the tracks, but you get the idea). I don’t think this album stops to collectively catch its breath until “Climbatize”, and that’s the 9th track out of 10. Just breathtakingly antagonistic as fuck. It’s a gem of a release, and should be considered a classic and a triumph for the electronic age; even through the more aggressive EDM age did fire not get bottled like on this release.
I was never fortunate to catch The Prodigy live before Keith’s passing, and it’s a shame, because the energy exhibited on the album seems like it translated 1:1 perfectly to a live setting. The only comparable live energy to date comparably in the electronic scene would be solely Alice Glass or Death Grips (no surprise if they listed The Prodigy as influence for their impeccable art).
Lastly, we’ve been talking about album art A LOT in the EIN group chat. This mostly consists of our very own Eeli Helin decreeing what is good album art and what is bad within specific parameters. He has fantastic tastes, and although it does have the band logo (which is apparently a no-no), I am happy to surmise that he would agree this crab is fucking everything, and captures the essence of what this albums sounds like perfectly (if I’m wrong I’ll definitely be hearing about it, except he did promise me he wasn’t going to read this). I love that crab, I love its ferocity and its determination you can see in its little tiny eyes. That shit is going to fucking attack you, and you will feel its wrath. The entire vibe of this release exudes determined anarchistic energy and ferocity, and it really is my favorite album cover of the decade, hands down.
Somewhere I thought I had read once that the folks in The Prodigy were anarchists. I admired that, and agreed the medium matched the ideology. In preparing for this article I wasn’t able to source that article, or find mention of it anywhere. It’s ok, though. Whatever affirmation I needed is soon washed away with destruction and fire with the blessed chaos of The Fat Of The Land, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful. RIP KEITH FLINT.