Born November 2, 1974 Albert Johnson, better known as Prodigy of Mobb Deep, was not only a rapper; But an author and an entrepreneur.
Today we recognize not only the day he passed and transitioned. But we celebrate the life and career of one of ship Hop’s most gifted talents, and for sure one of the most recognizable voices of the genre.
“RIP Prodigy. One of the greatest rappers of all time, no debate. I can’t believe he’s been gone 3 years already. Also, “Keep It Thoro” is a PERFECT song. The opening bars are flawless. It’s a shame most of his solo catalog isn’t available on streaming ” tweeted Andrew Barber of Chicago based Fakeshore Drive.
This sentiment seems to be undoubtedly shared by others across the Hip Hop Community. As fans, bloggers, and notable individuals in music have expressed their love and admiration for the legendary rapper from Queens, NY.
Who can forget the 1995 Sophomore Album “The Infamous”? Which featured one of the illest tracks in Hip Hop History; “Shook One’s”. It’s safe to say that it was this album that catapulted not only Prodigy to superstardom, but his group mate Havoc as well. Cementing them as one of the top dips in the history of the genre.
There are so many noteworthy songs to choose from as we honor the life of Prodigy. From “Shook One’s”(Pt2) to Survival OF The Fittest. From the “I Shot Ya” Remix feat L.L. Cool J feat. Keith Murray, Prodigy, Fat Joe and Foxy Brown, to my personal favorite “Eye For An Eye”(Your Beef Is Mines) feat Nas and Raekwon.
“When I said, “I’m only 19, but my mind is old”- at that time, when I said that line, I was 18” – Prodigy
The legendary lyricist ran into a few legal snags that ultimately led to Prodigy becoming more aware of the imbalance in our justice system. In March of 2011, Prodigy was released from Mid-State Correctional Facility, in Marcy, NY after serving three years on a criminal charge for weapons possession. A term where he saw 6 months shaved off his sentence for Good Behavior.
“You have people there from all walks of life: people who made mistakes and have to deal with the consequences, mothers and fathers. You wouldn’t expect them to be behind bars.”
Prodigy often spoke of issue of injustice and the shattered relationship between African Americans and the police department’s hired to work our communities. But it was his stance on prison life that had to be his strongest due to existing health issues.
“I couldn’t afford to get sick in prison. My sickle cell is no joke, so I couldn’t eat poorly or not exercise. And everything in jail is designed to do the exact opposite”.
Prodigy was not only an elite rapper. But a reputable author as well. The Queens, NY native published several books during his career. Including, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deeps Prodigy, in 2012. Other titles include – H.N.I.C: An Infamous Novella (2013) as well as a publication that surprised fans for sure; The 2016 publication, Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook.
In an interview with Vibe Magazine in November 2000, Prodigy spoke about what inspired him to directly address his life long battle with sickle-cell anemia on the song “You Can Never Feel My Pain”. Which was featured on H.N.I.C.
In a statement, Prodigy gave fans insight to his disease and what he intended on doing to spread awareness. “I have a deadly disease called Sickle Cell Anemia that I was born with that affects millions of others – primarily in the Black and Latino cultures. I feel I can inspire others with this Sickle Cell disease to be strong and believe in themselves”.
Unfortunately on the morning of June 20th, 2017, Prodigy was found unresponsive by medical staff after being admitted to Spring Valley Medical Center. He was transported to the facility after suffering a significant medical episode occurring from his life-long battle with sickle-cell anemia. It was documented that the rapper passed from “accidental choking”.
Whether it was through his published work as an author, speaking publicly on health and issues facing the black community, or simply blessing us with his rugged tone on painful tracks; Prodigy will undoubtedly live on as one of our generations leading voices on wax. A voice that will inspire many for years and decades to come.