Hip-hop lost another statesman from the Golden Era of Rap.
Las Vegas, Nevada — Last year, hip-hop lost an artist who was a part one of the most influential hip-hop groups in music, A Tribe Called Quest. Phife Dawg, 45, died from an unsuccessful kidney transplant because he was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.
Sadly enough to say, “the culture” lost another legend from the 90’s era of hip-hop. According to the Associated Press, earlier this week, hip-hop statesman Prodigy, born Albert Johnson, was admitted to a Las Vegas hospital and stayed bedridden for several days. Not until today, Prodigy’s publicist released a statement to the Associated Press, saying that Mr. Johnson has been battling with sickle cell anemia since birth and had passed away at the age of 42 years-old.
For the people that do not know Prodigy’s backstory, he was half of a legendary hip-hop duo. In 1992, Prodigy partnered with Kejuan “Havoc” Muchita in the Queensbridge Houses residency to form Mobb Deep in Queens, New York. Both of them were able to carve out their style and created hip-hop music that was much more hardcore and grittier than other rappers during the time.
Prodigy and Havoc released their first album Juvenile Hell in 1993 but did not reach mainstream success until their sophomore album, The Infamous. In 1995, Mobb Deep produced their first mega hit song “Shook Ones (Part II)” from their sophomore album, and New York Daily News entertainment reporter Peter Sblendorio wrote:
“Which is touted as one of the best hip hop songs of the 1990s… widely considered to be among their greatest work.”
A year later, Mobb Deep continued to release well-received music, and in 1996, they dropped their third album Hell on Earth. By the end of the 1990’s, both Prodigy and Havoc became the center of attention in the New York hip-hop scene and produced several hit songs, gained platinum plaques, and major awards.
In 1999, Mobb Deep released their most successful album to date, according to Billboards. Murda Musik sold over one million copies and had hit songs such as “Quiet Storm,” “U.S.A. (Aiight Then),” and “It’s Mine.” They were able to stand next to the likes of Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Jay-Z, and Nas.
Even though Prodigy was known for his rapping ability, he was still getting in trouble with the law, which put his career on pause in 2007. Mr. Johnson was charged with gun possession and served a 3.5-year-sentence then to be released in 2011. But in 2012, the hip-hop duo decided to go their separate way and did not make music together for three years.
Soon enough, Prodigy and Havoc rekindled their differences and released their eighth and final album The Infamous Mobb Deep in 2014. The hip-hop statesman continued to stay active by publishing a cookbook called Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook, which teaches inmates how to stay healthy while incarcerated.
On Jun. 11, he performed at the Hot 97’s Summer Jam concert at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Later in the month, Mobb Deep was scheduled to perform in Newark, New Jersey on Jun. 30, but unexpectedly Prodigy died in Las Vegas due to his sickle cell anemia condition.
Many iconic hip-hop figures such as Nas, Ice-T, Ghost Face Killah, and of course his “brotha from anotha” Havoc offered their condolences to Mr. Johnson’s family. And when it is all set and done Mobb Deep is one of the greatest hip-hop duos of all-time.
Rest Easy, Prodigy