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Prodigy (1974–2017)

by Kirk Fox

The rapper Prodigy from the hip-hop duo Mobb Deep died Tuesday, June 20, 2017, according to multiple news sources. He was 42.

His publicist confirmed the recording artist’s death. He was hospitalized “a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth.”

The publicist added that the exact cause of death has not been determined.


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Prodigy was born Albert Johnson Nov. 2, 1974. He came from a musical family—his grandfather Budd Johnson and his great-uncle Keg Johnson are known for their contributions to the bebop jazz era.

Prodigy co-founded the critically acclaimed hip-hop duo Mobb Deep with Kejuan Muchita (aka Havoc) in the early 1990s. Mobb Deep was one of the most successful rap duos in hip-hop, having sold over 3 million records. Their debut album, “Juvenile Hell,” was released in 1993.

The duo achieved their first large success with the 1995 album “The Infamous.” The album was about Havoc growing up in New York City’s Queensbridge Houses. The duo’s third album, “Hell on Earth,” debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard charts in 1996. The album also was based on the duo’s street life.

Their most recent album was 2014’s “The Infamous Mobb Deep.”

Prodigy had just performed with Mobb Deep on the Art of Rap Tour in Las Vegas Saturday night.

Chuck D from the rap group Public Enemy tweeted: “Shattered hearing news of Prodigy while here Luxembourg tour. MobbDeep duo=nice guys, I would see him occasionally out in LI.”

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons tweeted: “Love and light to the family and friends of Prodigy. One of Queen’s finest. He will be greatly missed.”

In Thursday’s edition of The New York Times, op-ed contributor Eddie Huang, a restaurateur and television host, pays tribute to Prodigy.

In the opinion piece titled “Prodigy, My Favorite Rapper,” Huang writes, “His language was never overly ornate; it would ‘rock you in your face, stab your brain with your nose bone.’ Hip-hop was the most honest lens I found in the American wilderness outside my Taiwanese-Chinese home, and Prodigy’s story about hell on earth was one of its finest.

“One day people will stop being surprised that Mobb Deep was so influential to someone like me. They won’t see a cultural chasm between two men who became family over the past six years. I started off worshiping Prodigy the rapper, but today I miss Prodigy my friend. If he wasn’t your favorite rapper, he should have been.”

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