the prodigy – breathe

this probably seems like a counterintuitive move. i remember saying to my sister’s first boyfriend, with whom i enjoyed an antagonistic relationship, that i absolutely hated dance music and would never go near anything like it. i think they were still together when i entered this ‘phase’ (it didn’t matter, i beat him playing golden eye). to be honest, it never extended beyond the prodigy, nor beyond the big day out festival in adelaide in january 1997 where they headlined, i got a couple of great photos and my friend had her glasses broken in the mosh pit.

i loved the energy of this music in spite of its roots and it’s destination. there was a small rave scene around adelaide, and probably other australian cities, that initially made them underground popular. i think my cousin can attest to its continuation into the early 2000s, in a somewhat evolved form.

breathe was the second single, after firestarter, released in australia off fat of the land, an album i deliberately never got. those two singles were released well before the album itself, and stood on their own in a way. i more ‘fondly’ recalled vids for songs off their first album from rage, and listening to triple j radio (this is still to come). though the two film clips are memorable, as are the songs themselves. it was a bizarre transitional moment in their fame and output, from music for the jilted generation, when i used a black texta to draw their then logo onto one of my dad’s canvas telecom bags, to a sort of reinvented stadium act pitching to a totally different audience (ie. anyone with ears).

on this single release, the accompanying tracks are actually great live festival renditions of two jilted songs and a one-off original that sounds more like it belongs on jilted. it’s actually kinda pop.

in hindsight, a song like smack my bitch up, no matter how it was justified or explained, was a clarion call to me. it was probably the first moment i was conscious of underlying fucked up attitudes towards women creeping into the everyday. even if it’s a euphemism for something else, it draws on the imagery and intent of the literal to make its point.

this is what’s facing us more clearly now, and has pervaded society. young blokes i know for whom this was amongst their first introduction to ‘adult’ music perpetuate similar concepts almost without realising it. a kind of unconscious sexism that, to call it out for what it is, invites accusations of political correctness and a lack of humour, or far worse. guys, try being a woman and then sing about it, think about it, write about it. to make women the problem for having a problem with it is like fucking yourself in the arse.

the ‘controversy’ surrounding members of odd future today eerily resembles the very same 16 years ago. and if you think it’s being insightful, challenging ‘the establishment’ or just fucking hilarious, you need a definitive lesson in something. it also means you disagree with the beastie boys.

whatever the case, when you start touring with linkin park, you know your career’s over. sorry boys.

fuck em and their law


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