BY DEJA KEHINDE
On Tuesday June 20 2017, the hip hop community said farewell to Prodigy of Mobb Deep who passed away in Las Vegas at the age of 42.
Born Albert Johnson in Hempstead, New York in 1974, he was influenced early by his family members with musical backgrounds. Prodigy began writing rhymes in high school under the stage name Lord T. Shortly after he linked up with Havoc to create Mobb Deep in the early 90s. The two grew to be central figures of the New York rap scene around the time of the East vs. West coast beef solidifying their legendary status through the release of eight studio albums.
The duo released their first album “Juvenile Hell” in 1993. They reached mainstream success with their sophomore album “The Infamous” in 1995 with the single “Shook Ones (Part II) featuring the classic intro verse from Prodigy. The instrumental itself has lived on through hip hop culture in the use of cyphers and rap battles alike. “The Infamous” album sold over 500,000 copies within the first two months and is considered the top of their discography along with “Hell On Earth” and “Murda Muzik”.
Known for his iconic opening lines and hardcore raps about observations of his Queensbridge neighborhood, Prodigy achieved solo success with the 1999 hit “Quiet Storm”. The song remained so popular after it’s original release they remixed it as Mobb Deep with a guest verse from Lil Kim. He went on to record his first solo album in 2000 titled “H.N.I.C”.
Aside from writing songs, he also wrote movies and books. Prodigy published his autobiography My Infamous Life in 2011 and began working on a cookbook titled Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook centered around keeping a balanced diet while in prison. He cites his battle with sickle cell as inspiration.
Prodigy’s last performance took place on the Art of Rap Tour alongside Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One, and Ice-T just last weekend in Las Vegas. Following his performance he was hospitalized for complications with sickle cell anemia - a condition in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen throughout your body. Prodigy battled with the hereditary disorder since birth and was one of approximately 80,000 Americans living with it.
Nas was the first to break the news on Instagram posting a photo with the caption:
“RIP P Prodigy 4 Ever”. Others who have expressed condolences include Ghostface Killah, Diddy, Q Tip, Lil Wayne, Jay Electronica, A$AP Rocky, 50 Cent and many more. Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg paid a special tribute to the MC expressing what he meant to hip-hop on-air. The other half of Mobb Deep, Havoc, uploaded a series of photos of the two on Instagram, one of them in their early rap days with the caption “Forever”. He will truly live on through his music.