The hip-hop community is in mourning after one of its pillars, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, died Tuesday.
The 42-year-old from Queens, born Albert Johnson, was a power player in the genre that made classics like “Shook Ones” and “Quiet Storm.”
Beyond the lights, there was so much more to know about the man that solidified New York City as a capital for its own kind of rap and social awareness in the early 1990s. Learn more about Prodigy below.
Prodigy and Havoc both attended the High School of Art and Design
The friends that would form Mobb Deep met at age 15 in the lunchroom of the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. Prodigy turned down a solo record deal with Jive to be in a duo with Havoc— the group’s first name was Poetical Prophets before changing to Mobb Deep. They eventually dropped out to pursue music full time.
Beyond rap, Prodigy ran several businesses
As reported by the River Front Times, since his release in 2011, Prodigy started his own label, clothing line, and publishing imprint (all under the name “Infamous”), and released three solo albums, a Mobb Deep EP and two books.
His family lineage created Black history
Prodigy was the great-great-grandson of William Jefferson White, who founded Morehouse College in the basement of his Baptist church in Augusta, Georgia; his grandfather was world-famous jazz musician Budd Johnson, as reported by The Village Voice.
Nas inspired him to step up his lyricism
“You could just hear the difference between his lyrics and beats and ours,” he told the River Front Times. “That’s when we started putting our heart and soul into the music and really trying to make something that could last.”
Chris Lightly was his manager
“Chris was the greatest hip-hop manager that ever lived,” Prodigy said in a Complex interview. “He was more than just a manager, too. He was one of the greatest business minds as far as bringing hardcore hip-hop and real street hip-hop to the corporate world. He did that real good. There was a few people that was real good at that and he was one of the best ones. His networking, his communication skills were incredible.”