Skip to main content

Passings: Prodigy of Mobb Deep (1974 - 2017)

by VVN Music

Prodigy, half of the hip hop duo Mobb Deep, has died from complications of sickle cell anemia at the age of 42.

His representative said "Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined."

Prodigy was born Albert Johnson in Hemptstead, NY, the son of Crystals member Fatima Johnson, the grandson of bebop player Budd Johnson and great-nephew of Keg Johnson.

In 1992, he joined with Havoc (aka Kejuan Muchita) as Poetical Prophets, releasing an independent demo, Flavor of the Non-Believers. The next year, they were signed to 4th & Broadway Records for their debut album, Juvenile Hall. Although the album did not chart, the second single, Hit It From the Back, reached 18 on Rap Singles.

Two years later, they moved to Loud Records where their album The Infamous went to 18 on the Billboard 200 and 3 on the R&B charts on the strength of the singles Shook Ones (Part II) (1994 / #59 Pop / #52 R&B / #7 Rap) and Survival of the Fittest (1995 / #69 Pop / #60 R&B / #10 Rap). Critics and fans were particularly impressed with the duo's straight forward depiction of street life.

It was also during this time that Mobb Deep became heavily involved in the east coast/west coast rap wars. They recorded the song L.A., L.A. with Capone-N-Noreaga and Tragedy Khadafi in response to Snoop Dogg's New York, New York. Tupac followed by targeting the members of Mobb Deep in his music including When We Ride on Our Enemies which mentioned Prodigy's sickle cell ailment.

1996 saw their first chart topping album, Hell on Earth (1996 / #6 Pop / #1 R&B) and followed with four more top two R&B sets which were hugely popular without the support of a top ten single on any of the charts. Fans were looking the duos unique perspective on life and not for radio friendly fare.

In October 2006, Prodigy was pulled over by police after making an illegal u-turn. When the officers searched his car, they found a gun which brought him a three-and-a-half year prison sentence.

Mobb Deep went on a hiatus in 2011 after a personal falling out but were back in the studio by 2013 working on new material,

2011 also brought Prodigy's memoirs, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep's Prodigy. As a solo artist, he released five studio albums including Hegelian Dialectic (The Book of Revelation) which came out this past January.