Rest In Peace Prodigy (Albert Johnson) [ November 2, 1974 – June 20, 2017 ]. In an interview with Vibe in November 2000, Prodigy spoke about what inspired him to directly address his battle with sickle-cell anemia on the song “You Can Never Feel My Pain” from his debut studio album H.N.I.C. He attributes his nihilism to the “permanent physical suffering” caused by his lifelong battle with the condition.[
“Tupac, Ja Rule–a whole bunch of people talk about pain. And Tupac, he even said some shit about my sickle-cell [on his song “Hit ‘Em Up”], so that inspired me to make a real song to show niggas what pain is.”
—Prodigy, Vibe magazine, November 2000.
On June 20, 2017, it was reported that Prodigy died in Las Vegas, Nevada after having been hospitalized a few days earlier for complications related to his sickle-cell anemia. He was performing in the Art of Rap Tour in Las Vegas with Havoc, Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One and Ice-T when he was hospitalized. The exact cause of his death is yet to be determined.
Mobb Deep was an American hip hop duo from the Queensbridge Houses in New York City. The group consisted of Havoc and Prodigy and was “one of the most critically acclaimed hardcore East Coast Hip-Hop groups.” They were known for their dark, hardcore delivery as exemplified in “Shook Ones (Part II).” Mobb Deep became one of the most successful rap duos in hip hop, having sold over three million records. Mobb Deep’s net worth was estimated at $10 million USD. Prodigy passed away in Las Vegas, Nevada. He sucummbed to his long battle with sickle cell anemia.
Two of their albums have been critical successes; The Infamous (1995) and Hell on Earth (1996). The group briefly disbanded in 2012 but later reunited.
In 1992, before Mobb Deep was officially established, Havoc and Prodigy originally went by Poetical Prophets and released their first demo titled Flavor for the Nonbelievers which was promoted through the Unsigned Hype column of The Source magazine. In 1993, Havoc and Prodigy, released their debut album, Juvenile Hell, which was promoted by the single “Peer Pressure.” Also that year, Havoc made a guest appearance on the Black Moon album Enta Da Stage on a song titled “U Da Man.” In 1994 the duo released a single titled “Shook Ones Part 1”.
The group saw its first major success with their second album, The Infamous, released in 1995. Mobb Deep catapulted to the top of the hardcore hip-hop scene through Havoc and Prodigy’s straightforward narration of street life. In this album, Mobb Deep portrayed the struggles of living in New York City’s Queensbridge Houses where Havoc grew up. Following the release of The Infamous, Mobb Deep became some of the most prolific artists of the East Coast. The production of this album was very dark and sample-based thanks to Havoc, who produced the beats from this point forward. Furthermore, the hit single “Shook Ones Pt. II”, a remix to the hit Shook Ones, received critical acclaim.
Mobb Deep’s third album, Hell on Earth was released in 1996 debuting at number six on the Billboard Album Chart; the album continued the duo’s portrayal of harsh street life while further pushing them to the forefront of Hip Hop scene along with contemporary East Coast Rappers like The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan, Big L and fellow Queensbridge rapper Nas. Nas as well as Method Man and Raekwon of the Wu Tang Clan appear on ‘Hell on Earth’.
In 1996, they appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation CD, America is Dying Slowly alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan and Fat Joe among many other prominent Hip Hop artists. This compilation was solely meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men and this compilation was heralded as “a masterpiece” by The Source Magazine, a Hip Hop publication. 1997 Mobb Deep was featured on Frankie Cutlass “Politics & Bullsh*t” album track title “Know Da Game” which also features Kool G Rap. In 1998, the duo collaborated with reggae dancehall artist Bounty Killer on the track “Deadly Zone” for the soundtrack to Blade. In 1999, they released the highly anticipated Murda Muzik album which, despite extensive bootlegging, had the majority of its songs unintentionally leaked. This resulted in delays in the official album release. When the album was officially released, it eventually debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and quickly received Platinum Certification and was further promoted by the popular single “Quiet Storm.” Shortly afterward, Prodigy released his long-awaited solo album H.N.I.C in which he collaborated with fellow artists like (B.G., N.O.R.E.) and producers (including The Alchemist, Rockwilder and Just Blaze).