In 1997, The Prodigy released the third single from their album ‘The Fat of the Land’. It caused pandemonium. The music video was banned from TV. Newspapers railed against the incendiary lyrics.
But beneath the controversy, something else was missed: an incredible creative process - and one that could be translated into many other fields.
Here’s how Liam Howlett of The Prodigy wrote ‘Smack my bitch up’ (yes, that’s the title of the track…).
In this video reconstruction by Jim Pavloff you can see how Howlett grabbed pieces from eight different songs across multiple genres, and turned them inside out to create something truly original - and unforgettable. (it probably kept the copyright lawyers busy, too.)
Check it out - it’s ridiculously cool. As the top YouTube comment says:
“I don't think people fully understand or appreciate the genius it takes to put together and mix something like this.”
But why is this interesting? And why post it here?
I sense there are three core skills at work - all of which are incredibly valuable and relevant today.
Howlett went WIDE, pulling in snippets from all sorts of places. There’s Indian fusion, hip hop, metal, and rave all in there. If the track was made only from one genre, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as exciting
This era was proof that even with fairly basic kit, you can achieve a ton. But whether it’s 1994 or 2024, it pays to know how to get the most from the tools you have available
The first two skills aren’t enough on their own. To create something people want to engage with you need synthesize the ideas, then sequence and arrange them in a way that’s fresh but also familiar. Genre and structure matter
Thinking in this way and building these three skill sets can be incredibly valuable for your own work: whether it’s making presentations, running an event for your team, or producing your own material.
We may not be able to rock it like Liam Howlett, but in a world where everyone’s seeking to do more with less, perhaps it’s worth treating everything as a remix.
P.S. He did all of this in 1996. Barely any internet. No YouTube. No Spotify. Constraints… Creativity
The Wavetable Exchange delivers insights, inspiration, and resources from the intersections of learning, creativity and growth.