Fatboy Slim

Fatboy Slim will be forever preserved in the mainstream pop-culture annals as that funk soul brother who all but left so-called "electronica" behind as he crafted commercial-ready dance hits. Seriously, his late 1990s/early 2000s hits are so massive that they need not even be named. (Oh, here are a few anyway, instantly recognizable at their opening notes: 1999's ubiquitous "Praise You," 2000's "Sunset (Bird of Prey)," even, as late as 2004, "Slash Dot Dash.") You can't fault him for his pop chops. The superstar DJ known as Norman Cook started out as a guitar guy, writing a punk fanzine and playing in bands in the 1980s, including the jangly, moderately popular U.K. indie act the Housemartins.

Still, a longtime hip-hop fan enthralled by the genre-bending dalliances of post-punk, Cook eventually turned to house music by the mid-1990s. That, combined with his old rock, funk, hip-hop, and soul interests, would lead to the creation of a signature sound eventually dubbed Big Beat. It looked poised, by the late 1990s, to blow up in the mainstream, along with the progressive house sounds of contemporaries like Sasha and Digweed and Paul Oakenfold.

But that original era of the super-DJ is long gone, and Cook has since retooled. In the past couple of years, he's gone back to the band thing, performing as Brighton Port Authority and collaborating with the likes of David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal. And the spirit of big beat lives on in his still-legendary DJ sets, which traverse danceable genres without missing a... well, you know.

 
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