Prodigy From Mobb Deep Has Passed Away At Age 42

According to Nas and figures across Hip-Hop, rapper Prodigy (aka Albert Johnson) has died today (June 20). The co-founder of Mobb Deep was 42 years old in a career that includes music, books, and acting.

Details are still emerging for the Queens, New York native’s death. Per a TMZ report, the artist died in a Las Vegas, Nevada hospital. Over the last weekend, he was there as part of an Art Of Rap concert led by Ice-T. Pitchfork reports that the MC/producer had been hospitalized for his ongoing sickle cell anemia treatment. He had battled the disease since birth. A spokesperson for Mobb Deep stated, “The exact causes of death have yet to be determined.” Nas posted word of P’s passing online this afternoon.

With partner Havoc, Prodigy formed Mobb Deep while attending New York’s High School of Art and Design. The Long Island and Queens duo broke through on the Stretch & Bobbito radio show in the early 1990s. They would eventually sign with 4th & B’way Records, releasing 1993’s Juvenile Hell album. At the middle of the decade, the duo would find their legendary stride, care of 1995’s The Infamous LP. With Havoc and Q-Tip producing, Prodigy emerged as one of Rap’s most menacing lyricists. His songwriting was inspired by New York City’s underbelly, crime, and horror. From songs like “Shook Ones Pt. 2,” “Survival Of The Fittest,” “Quiet Storm,” and 2000 solo breakout “Keep It Thoro,” Prodigy has mined a litany of memorable verses, focused on triumph, courage, and navigating treachery. In total, Mobb Deep released three gold and one platinum album. His own debut, released through longtime label Loud/RCA Records, also achieved gold.

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Throughout his career, Prodigy was one to shake things up. He engaged in high profile feuds with Tupac Shakur, JAY Z, Saigon, and for a brief part of the 2010s, his partner, Havoc. However, in recent years, the artist who worked with Nas, Raekwon, LL Cool J, and many others focused on creative pursuits. He published his memoir and a cookbook, re-launched a label, orchestrated a play, and gave much of his music away for free. P formed the Albert Einstein duo with longtime collaborator Alchemist and toured extensively with Mobb Deep. Together, he and Havoc released The Infamous Mobb Deep in 2014, featuring many unreleased sessions from their ’95 masterpiece.

Outside of art, Prodigy was a devoted father. Following a 2011 prison release for weapons charges, the veteran stated that he aimed to focus his energies on positive things. Just this month, he appeared on AZ’s video single “Save Them,” also featuring Raekwon.

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In 2015, Prodigy and Havoc spoke to Ambrosia For Heads during the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. They addressed legacy, Queens, and their classic LP:

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Prodigy’s death follows several in Hip-Hop over the last month, including U.T.F.O.’s The Educated Rapper, producer Josh The Goon, and former Universal Zulu Nation leader T.C. Izlam.

AFH extends condolences to Havoc, Alchemist, and the family, friends, and fans of Prodigy.