Do Remember When Prodigy Reminded Us He Was One Of The Realest (Audio)
The Hip-Hop community remains in a state of collective mourning, still reeling from the unexpected loss of Prodigy earlier this week. The 42-year-old Queensbridge MC – who at only 18 penned some of Rap’s most prolific rhymes – passed away due to complications from his lifelong battle with sickle-cell disease on June 20. Much like the loss of Sean Price in 2015 and Phife Dawg in 2016, the sudden death of the Mobb Deep dun has left many of us simultaneously shocked and numb, but the tragedy has granted us ample opportunity to reflect and celebrate on the late rapper’s tremendous skill and contribution to the world.
After introducing themselves to the world through 1993’s Juvenile Hell, Havoc and Prodigy reintroduced themselves with a vengeance. They would drop three more LPs before the decade was over, ending with 1999’s Murda Muzik. Their only platinum-selling album, it’s home to the genre-defining “Quiet Storm” and its remix, as well as notable appearances from Nas (“It’s Mine”), Cormega (“What’s Ya Poison”), and Raekwon (“Can’t F*ck With”). With one of the sharpest pens in Rap (and a remarkable ability to consistently come with some of its most memorable opening lines), Prodigy kept it thoro as ever on the album, standing toe-to-toe with Kool G Rap on “The Realest.”
As usual, what makes P’s verse so devastating is his application of a cinéma-vérité technique to the written word, creating a snapshot so vivid, listeners are immediately transported to the time and place envisioned through his rhyme:
Never prejudge, it be the humble that’ll squeeze slugs
It be the ones standin’ still that’ll peel guns
Spill blood for my duns thuggin’ for me
Man you don’t wanna get involved f*ckin’ with P
I spent more nights illin’, less nights chillin’
The more shots they hold the better they feel it
What be the deal is some killas like to hide behind specs
Others got blatant disrespect and the rest
Are so young that you wouldn’t even expect
To be burstin’ off guns like a Vietnam vet
On the steps, sittin’ in the staircase bent
Thinkin’ on ways to take another man head
Go to war with ni**as that’s against what I rep
I settle things with a heavy metal fifth
Change clips, switch clothes after I spit
Place ni**as back in they space, f*ck is on your mind kid?
Despite suffering a life-threatening, painful disease since birth, Prodigy will be remembered for his lyrics about the reality of his surroundings, not self-pity. He managed to put on for his community, lending voice to the hustle and struggle of life. He never sugarcoated anything, but he also served as an example of fierce determination for something better. Though he may have become an iconic artist able to travel the globe, not once did he compromise himself. And to have done it all while in great pain is truly something to leave us all stuck off the realness.