(AllHipHop Features) The Hip-Hop Nation is collectively saddened, hurt and devastated over the loss of Albert “Prodigy” Johnson, half of the classic rap act Mobb Deep.
The stunning news spread all across the world in a matter of minutes. I found out from a friend vacationing in Puerto Rico who called to verify the news. I was stunned to realize almost immediately that Nas had posted condolences on Instagram. And then my phone, texts and DM’s just began going off non-stop. Prodigy. Not Prodigy.
Relationships with an artist can be dicey as a journalist as the owner of an informational outlet. But, I liked Prodigy and I realized we’ve all supported each other heavily over the course of a couple of decades. It is weird how you realize how deeply somebody permeates into your life and times.
I had interviewed P recently and he seemed to be taking extreme care of himself. He made sure he ate prior to leaving the interview and we talked a lot about the world we live in as it related to his new album.
He was planning to do a health book rooted in his workout regiment and had already done a cookbook rooted in his specific dietary needs as an individual living with sickle cell anemia.
And P was plotting two more solo albums to accompany his recently released Hegelian Dialectic (The Book of Revelation) and had recorded for a new Mobb Deep album too. AllHipHop.com’s Final Interview With Prodigy Of Mobb Deep was deep and it underscored how profound a thinker Prodigy was.
On the music front, you would be hard-pressed to find a finer lyricist. Mobb Deep’s first three albums (We’ll put Juvenile Hell to the side for now) are a 3-piece outing very, very few Hip-Hop act can claim.The Infamous (1995), Hell on Earth (1996), Murda Muzik (1999) were all certified classics that would fuel the group’s longevity and cement their legend.
The reality is, their work after these albums is nothing to sneeze at, even if some of it was largely slept on.
I wasn’t sleeping though.
Both P and Hav were creatives with few peers.
Prodigy, for example, teamed up with The Alchemist on Albert Einstein (2013) and released a slew of solo material people vibe to this day. I hope people go back and give those albums another listen.
On a another note…let’s be very clear.
Most of New York Hip-Hop was silent when chaos was raining down with Tupac and Death Row. Make no mistake about this, Prodigy was among a very brave – one hand few – that held it down. “Drop A Gem On ‘Em” was one of the most underrepresented diss tracks, mainly because Tupac was murdered before it came out.
Truth is, P was fearless in ways we will never truly know. He lived with Sickle Cell and has faced death for years.
And he made a huge difference in the lives of the people he touched. I can’t tell you how my inbox, social media and phone have been flooded with personal memories. Just look up #RIPprodigy. We are going back and forth with P’s lyrics, remembering how ill he was.
My Alpha brother reminded me that, when I was on the radio, I played “Shook Ones II” to the Kappas the day before a big step show. We laughed. And Lisa Evers tweeted me the time she, Prodigy, Maino, myself and others were on the first pilot episode of Street Soldiers. Prodigy and Raekwon celebrating AllHipHop.com’s 15th Anniversary a few years go and we all stood on the same stage as the legend. Recently, one of my team joined Prodigy, AZ and Raekwon for a new song featuring all three. It was like P was a magnet and we went wherever he was.
When Grouchy Greg, Phat Phillie and a gang of us were over in The Netherlands at New Skool Rules, we were straight wilding’ to “Shook Ones II.”
I can’t tell you how dope it was to get P’s info the last time I saw him. I was honored and really don’t know if I would have used it. I have everybody’s info and some people just sit in that glass and you just watch them do great things. I don’t mind that. I appreciate that. I always feel guilty mourning so hard over stars, but I have come to terms that these people are as much a part of our lives as friends and family.
Maybe more. I remember Juvenile Hell. I remember playing “Shook Ones I.” Then came The Infamous, “Shook Ones II” and all the obscure songs like “Bloodshed & War” with Da Youngstas. There have literally been countless hours listening to Mobb Deep and Prodigy since they hit the scene. I look into the archives of AllHipHop and realize that we have indeed lived with P on so many levels its mind-blowing.
Man, we all loved Prodigy even in the difficult times.
Honestly, he never failed us, even when we failed him. He never stopped putting out dope music. Never stopped performing. Never stopped touring. Never stopping giving back. He was a better person when he passed away and this is why we feel the tragedy so deeply. We saw a smarter, wiser, stronger Prodigy than ever before.
He was never, ever shook. And for that we are all a bit more powerful.