Albert "Prodigy" Johnson, best known as one half of the Queens rap duo Mobb Deep, died this morning (June 20) at age 42. His publicist confirmed the death to XXL earlier today:
Prodigy 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 exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.
His sudden death left fans and fellow MCs "shook," and many took to social media to air their condolences, turning "Prodigy" and "RIP Prodigy" into Twitter trending topics:
RIP Prodigy!! You’ll be forever cherished #prodigy #mobbdeep pic.twitter.com/u66btArnvr
— Urban Ubiquity (@UrbanUbiquity) June 20, 2017
R.I.P. to the man with the most fitting name in the art…cause he was one. Prodigy gave us some of the illest most meaningful lines ever
— Ka (@BrownsvilleKa) June 20, 2017
For now… I wouldn’t have rapped the way I did/do and I wouldn’t have loved hip hop the way I did/do without Prodigy existing.
— Jean Grae (@JeanGreasy) June 20, 2017
Allmusic cites Mobb Deep as an early pioneer of "hardcore rap," an East Coast-affiliated subgenre characterized by minimalist production and bleak depictions of life and violence in impoverished Black neighborhoods. Prodigy and fellow group member Kejuan "Havoc" Muchita grew up in Queens, New York, and bonded over hip-hop while in high school. The duo released ten full-length albums between 1993 and 2014. Three of those albums went gold, while another, 1999’s "Murda Muzik," went platinum.
Prodigy launched a solo career in the new millennium with "H.N.I.C.," which spawned sequels in 2008 and 2012. He released his fifth and final full-length solo album, "Hegelian Dialect: The Book of Revelation," earlier this year.
Outside of rap, Prodigy wrote and published fiction books under his own "Infamous Books" imprint. Last year, he released "Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook," a collection of recipes and reflections on health and the criminal justice system inspired by his three-and-a-half year incarceration for weapons violations.
Celebrate Prodigy’s legacy with the choice tracks below, culled from his Mobb Deep and solo careers: