The Fat Of The Land: The Prodigy and the rave spectacularization

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Once upon a time there were the raves, hyper-young and against any kind of compromise, made for rowdy teenagers who drove in the evening, with all tablets and alcohol necessary, towards a destination discovered with word of mouth just a few minutes before, in that dark, exciting way in which illegal news spread under Thatcher administration. There it was, and it was pure, uncontaminated and haunted by an idea of unattainable future. Then, years later, the show, the spotlight, the fame and the structured export, the sound that everyone likes, the millions of copies sold all over the world, the Grammy nominations, the Mercury Prize and the presence in all the all-time charts. It was June 30th, 1997 and this was The Prodigy’s The Fat Of The Land.

And run, the story was already made, and who cares if the Orthodox fans of the original raves didn’t appreciate the operation. Pop Art is not for everyone, but it is necessary to everybody, to all forms of art that want to prove their potential. The years of Charly and adrenaline brought by the acids were still fresh, but well, the future is the future and here we were handling explosive material that was about to make a difference. The difference between an eternal sound on textbooks because it was sculpted in the heart of dance fans, and a sound becoming eternal de facto as the imperishable representation of pumped-up electronic music, yesterday, today and always, in headphones, in advertisements and in action movies.

The second nineties were already wallowing with this ambition of turning young electronic music into something a-little-more-rock. Call it big beat or electrorock, add The Chemical Brothers (who published Dig Your Own Hole just few weeks earlier), Fatboy Slim or The Crystal Method, but the contradiction remains: what others did with professional ambition, The Prodigy revealed it in all its shameless commercial predisposition. It was something to better keep silent, but how can you keep Smack My Bitch Up hidden? You just couldn’t. It is that thrust that everybody hates, the one that “ruins the rigor of a genre at the very moment when it makes it commercial”, the usual bullshit dictated by those who don’t understand that it’s the only way to immortality. It will be the swan song, and after it there will be reconstructions, recoveries and historical investigations. But the proof of power, no, that happens only when you break the wall of globality.

And then, if you can even reach punkheads listening to Nirvana and in the same time rotate on the radios, then you both won the game and offered an academic lesson about this music’s own rules. And it’s not exactly something you can minimize with that classic “it wasn’t necessary.” Nothing is necessary and everything is potentially boring, if it wasn’t for those few fools who come up from time to time in the line of history and decide to go against everything and everyone, doing a highly inadvisable thing. The Fat of The Land was made with liquid nitroglycerin handled by four rowdy guys who had no idea of how unstable it was. Eventually they built a bomb.

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