It is hard to really quantify the influence and impact that The Prodigy had on music and a generation of kids and potential electronic music artists. It is something obit writers, artists, essayists and people in social media have been trying to do all day, but we all will likely fail. Liam Howlett may have been the brains, but Keith Flint was the face and the voice of the group, being the most visceral connection people had to their organized chaos.
The Prodigy’s music became a soundtrack for a generation in the UK emerging from a decade of Thatcher austerity and hooliganism. In the 90’s dance music ruled the charts with acts like Orbital, The Chemical Brothers or 808 State. The Prodigy were right there, taking influence from breakbeats, jungle, the UK rave scene, punk, rock, industrial or Detroit techno and making it into their own powerful, angry and utterly unique blend of music.
Their 1991 single “Charly” put them into the public eye, but it was 1994s Music for the Jilted Generation that earned them the respect that the group deserved, earning a Mercury Prize nomination. The group continued to grow and evolve as Flint truly started to step out into the spotlight in the lead up to Fat Of The Land with “Firestarter” and “Breathe.”
They became unstoppable, doing the world arena and festival circuit, including now a legendary 1997 Glastonbury set. Flint became the voice and energy of their live show, bouncing around with unconfined passion. He channelled the power and anger of their music, combining it with his stage charisma into a sensation music was not seeing in that period. It was dark, noisy and unrestrained. There was a raw energy to his voice that didn’t have the polish and artificial sheen that was heard in a lot of pop music of that era. This was real and bridged so many different fan bases between electronic music, punk, rock and even some hip-hop.
Just as conservative Britain was revolting against dance music in response to drug deaths and illegal raves through the Criminal Justice Act, The Prodigy and Flint became the anti-heroes and owned it. They were the voice for those who felt they didn’t have one. The voice for the jilted generation.
Flint wasn’t part on the group’s 2004 album Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, but he re-joined for Invaders Must Die and was with them since. He owned a motorcycle race team, Team Traction Control and briefly owned a pub in Essex. He died by suicide over the weekend, the band confirmed today. “It is with deepest shock and sadness that we can confirm the death of our brother Keith Flint who sadly took his own life over the weekend.”
Check on your friends and loved ones today. Sometimes the pain on the inside is the worst one.