This Week in Hip-Hop/R&B History: Happy Birthday Prodigy!

Square

– Today, we celebrate the birthday of the late great Prodigy of the hip-hop group Mobb Deep. He would have been 43 years old today.

Just this past summer we lost Prodigy while he was hospitalized in Las Vegas for complications due to sickle cell anemia. With his passing being so fresh to so many of us, his name, music, videos, and interviews have been in heavy rotation. However, even then, his legacy continues to grow as we continue to uncover more of his greatness in his death.

Before Prodigy was even born, he was destined to mold the world in his own way. His grandfather was legendary saxophonist, Budd Johnson, while his granduncle, Keg Johnson was a trombonist. His mother, Fatima Frances Johnson was a member of the vocal group, The Crystals. His father, Budd Johnson Jr., was a member of a Doo Wop music group known as The Chanters. Last, but certainly not least, Prodigy is the great-great-great-grandson of William Jefferson White, the founder of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.

Prodigy grew up in Lefrak City, a large housing development in Queens, NY. However, it wasn’t until he attended the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan that he met his future music partner, Havoc. However, before meeting Havoc, Prodigy had a deal with Jive Records that lead to an uncredited appearance on the Boyz in the Hood soundtrack. The 16-year-old Prodigy, then known as LordT (the Golden Child) collaborated on the song, “Too Young” by Hi-Five for the soundtrack in 1991. However, after meeting Havoc, Prodigy demanded that Jive Records sign both artists as a duo. When they declined, Prodigy turned down the deal and proceeded to move forward with Havoc by his side.

Over the next few years, the duo originally known as “Poetical Prophets” got to work. After changing their name to “The Infamous Mobb Deep”, the duo released their debut album, Juvenile Hell, in 1993 while still in their late teens. However, their 1995 album, The Infamous, is the project that put them on the map. Mobb Deep went on to create even more classic albums including Hell On Earth, Murda Muzik, and Infamy. As a solo artist, Prodigy also has 5 albums under his belt including the popular H.N.I.C series.

Beyond Hip-Hop, Prodigy has become a beacon of light in many different areas. As the author of four books, he has influenced deep discussion on topics like the state of Black America, eating to live (even while incarcerated), government conspiracies, and secret organizations such as the Illuminati.

While we can go on all day talking about all of the good that Prodigy brought into the world, we joyfully encourage you to do your own research. However, we’ve gotten you started with a few albums and videos to listen to and watch as you go through your day. Enjoy.

Happy Birthday and R.I.P Prodigy

 

Written by DJ Robinson