Rapper Prodigy, known for his work in the duo Mobb Deep, has died. He was 42.


The co-author on one of his books, Kathy Iandoli, revealed the sad news. Prodigy’s cause of death has not been released, but the rapper was recently hospitalized for complications surrounding sickle cell anemia.

Born Albert Johnson, Prodigy had been in Las Vegas for a Mobb Deep performance with his counterpart Kejuan Muchita. His great-great-great grandfather, William Jefferson White, founded Morehouse College in Georgia. His grandfather was a great saxophonist and clarinetist who played behind Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Dizzie Gillespie, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman.

Prodigy met Muchita during their freshman year at Manhattan’s High School of Art and Design. They bonded over hip hop and formed Mobb Deep, Johnson taking the name Prodigy and Muchita becoming Havoc.

As teens, they made a record deal and released their first album, Juvenile Hell, in 1993. While that didn’t get a lot of hype, their next album, The Infamous, was praised. Hell on Earth came out in 1996 and featured contributions from big rappers like Nas and Raekwon, which helped launch Mobb Deep in the rap community. That album featured the single “Drop a Gem on ‘Em,” which was a response to Tupac’s diss track “Hit ‘Em Up.”

“When we made The Infamous, we had a song called ‘Survival of the Fittest,'” Prodigy explained in a 2011 interview. “On that song, in the beginning, my man that came home from jail… in the beginning of the song, he says, ‘Thug life, we still living.’ Tupac was the one who was most known for saying that,” Prodigy added, “so I think that pissed Tupac off a little bit.”

Mobb Deep was also part of the East Coast/West Coast rap rivalry in the ’90s. West Coasters Snoop Dogg and The Dogg Pound made “New York, New York,” while Mobb Deep and other East Coasters countered with “L.A., L.A.”

Mobb Deep’s most successful albums came in the 2000s, with Murda Muzik (1999), Infamy (2001), Amerikaz Nightmare (2004), and Bloody Money (2006). Their biggest hits were “Quiet Storm” and “Shook Ones.”

In addition to performing in Mobb Deep, Prodigy worked on solo projects, like his album H.N.I.C. In 2007, the rapper was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison for illegal possession of a firearm. He released an autobiography, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy and Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook, with the help of Iandoli.

Prodigy was mourned Tuesday by fellow rappers and fans. “Rest in Paradise young Blood @PRODIGYMOBBDEEP can’t believe you done lord we was just chilling!! Hold ya head @mobbdeephavoc,” wrote Ghostface Killah.

“Damn. RiP to the great one Prodigy. Rap game lost a legend the world lost a G. ?? to and for his fam. Love. MOBB,” said Lil Wayne.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to the uInterview newsletter

Read more about: