The death of The Prodigy’s quintessential frontman Keith Flint is a devastating loss especially for the old-school rave community, as he was the face of an electronic group that forever changed the rave scene. In a time when acid house and techno dominated most British clubs, The Prodigy dropped a bomb on ‘90s electronic dance music. Their distinct evolution from breakbeat hardcore – incorporating a dose of trip-hop, waves of industrial electro, fiery spouts of punk-like vocals and a hard rock edge – bridged the gap between ravers and rockers, reaching chart-topping success in the UK and mainstream popularity across the world.
My own odyssey with electronic music began at eight years old, when I first encountered The Prodigy while watching the 2000 “Charlie’s Angels” movie on DVD. An acrobatically over-the-top fight sequence was made unforgettably awesome thanks to their hyperkinetic hit “Smack My Bitch Up” soundtracking the action. I’d never heard anything with such badass, exhilarating rhythmic fury, and it planted a seed for dynamic, adrenaline-pumping electronica to become the primary influence of my music taste.
As a fourth grader, I again felt the bolt of fast-paced Prodigy power rush through my body when I heard “Firestarter” elevate an even more ridiculous action scene in the “Charlie’s Angels” sequel. Around the same time, I stumbled upon the devilishly freaky video for “Breathe” on a DVD of stylized music videos and extended ads. In a purgatorial, dilapidated apartment building, Flint thrashes about with the energy of a psychotic break and vocalist Maxim looks and moves like a black magic demon. The creepy imagery, intoxicating guitar hook and ominous lyrics burned themselves into my mind, mysteriously swirling in my subconscious for years.
Those memories resurfaced my freshman year of high school upon discovering The Prodigy’s seminal 1997 album “The Fat of the Land“, which features all three of those masterful singles, seven more high-flying grooves, and the iconic dancing crab album cover. Next I uncovered the uncut version of the highly controversial, totally gonzo “Smack My Bitch Up” video. Despite being taken off the air after only a week, the video deservedly won Best Dance Video and Best Breakthrough Video at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards. It remains ones of my all-time favorites, and spurred in me a whole new passion and appreciation for the art of music videos with uncompromising creativity and vision.
The most impressive scope of The Prodigy’s eminently danceable sound (and leader Liam Howlett’s production skill) can be found on “Their Law – The Singles 1990-2005“. Frequent returns to this collection throughout my teenage years helped ground my music tastes in more high-intensity, progressive, synth and underground dynamics. As the 2010s saw the EDM bubble grow and burst, that background played a crucial role in developing me into the raver I am today.
The Prodigy puts on live shows known for legendary amounts of energy, and as an early favorite of mine, they’ve been in my top three must-see acts since 2009. The closest taste I’ve had was seeing Pendulum play his superior remix of “Voodoo People” at Electric Forest in 2017, which sent myself and others familiar with the track into a dancing frenzy. The Prodigy were gearing up for their first U.S. tour in a decade this May, but all their upcoming shows have been cancelled in light of Keith’s death.
The landing page of The Prodigy’s website now showcases a photo collage tribute to the fallen rave icon. Many DJs will likely weave some Prodigy songs into their rotations throughout the spring and summer in honor of Keith’s legacy, so make sure to go extra hard when you hear them.
*Featured Image by Rhys Bennett via Spotlight Report*