Today in a memorandum of Prodigy on the first anniversary of his passing, many fans will visit streaming services to play “Shook Ones, Pt. II” or “Quiet Storm Remix.” However, the life of the Mobb Deep legend extends much further than Greatest Hits. Referencing the legendary and dominant New York City Hip-Hop scene and how it crafted the culture we experience today isn’t possible without acknowledging the contributions of P.
Fans were introduced to Mobb Deep during their mid-1990’s scene steal via their heralded album The Infamous but remained and grew with the duo of Prodigy and Havoc through the former’s death and beyond. The impact of the aforementioned album painted a vivid picture of what their New York City experience was. A ghetto gospel, the stories could be aligned with the time’s contemporaries of harsh Big Apple realities. However, the delivery of their bars in their street sagas provided an audio depiction of grit; It was raw. A first-hand account shot straight from the hip. Prodigy’s stories brought you to the forefront of the life he experiences but he exuded a feeling that he would come out on top. Evident in tracks like “Win or Lose” where Prodigy shows the ambition to make it regardless of a situation:
“And we the only niggas you know, that fuck they P.O.’s/They push our files to the top, you still on parole/We got, money to roll, no time for penitentiaries/Too much dollars to fold, it’s bulging out our jeans”
Prodigy lived his truth on records and where some would see it as vulnerability, he spits it as a reality badge of strength. Evident on the solo debut, H.N.I.C., Prodigy pushed his battle with sickle-cell to the forefront. Recalling his road to that point in 2000, P bares how he battled the pain. The methods by which he did – drugs or therapy – shaping his story and making fans understand his story and his journey. The disease put a target on his chest for attacking in a time where lines in beef weren’t as drawn as of those today, but he knew it. That’s a testament to his character, battle-tested on the mic and off but not backing down. Anybody could get it.
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Battles for Prodigy also included New York law. His 2006 arrest for gun possession resulted in three years inside for the legend. Would that stop his story? Of course not. Letters from prison became a Hip-Hop staple as his messages continued to show his reality but also ruffled feathers.
Prodigy’s talents weren’t solely limited to the mic, either. His passion for storytelling led to his autobiography, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, before doubling back into sharing the positive of his own prison experiences within the cookbook Commissary Kitchen. Both efforts show his spirit of triumph, the first showcasing coming from the streets to legendary status and the second a true exhibition of not being limited by your circumstances.
His longest foe, sickle cell, plagued him until his death. Touring the nation for The Art of Rap tour, Prodigy’s disease led him to a hospital in Las Vegas where he eventually died as a result of accidental choking. The result brought sorrow to a reflective Hip-Hop scene with fans and artists displaying how important he was to their experiences.
We haven’t heard the last of Prodigy. The legend will speak to us again as revealed by Havoc. Speaking with MSNBC back in May, he revealed the effort is being worked on with family. “The way I’m reflecting on it is I’m just trying to keep the legacy alive,” he said. The efforts are vital because new verses from one of Hip-Hop most powerful voices are always appreciated, but if not, we will never forget the strength of classics like “Survival of the Fittest.”
R.I.P to Prodigy.