– 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

 

– After the passing of Notorious B.I.G, Bad Boy Records had big shoes to fill. However, the release of Harlem World back in 1997 showed that Mase was the right man for the job.

Mase originally rose to fame as a member of the Harlem hip-hop group, Children of the Corn alongside Cam’ron and Big L. However, following the death of 2 group members, including its founder, Big L, Mase signed to Bad Boy Entertainment. Soon after, Mase received widespread attention from his appearance on Notorious B.I.G’s hit single,“Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” and the rest was history. Mase soon became Puff Daddy’s new protégé as he began to promote Mase as Bad Boy’s main attraction.

On October 28, 1997, Harlem World was released and was an immediate success. The project was #1 on the Billboard Pop and R&B LP charts while also selling 270,000 copies in the U.S during its first week. Harlem World also included quite a few hits such as “Feel So Good” (U.S. #5), “What You Want” (U.S. #6), and “Lookin’ at Me” (U.S. #8).

While it’s clear to every hip-hop fan that Notorious B.I.G was an irreplaceable talent, it is also easy to understand how Mase became Bad Boy’s next leading artist. His smooth and laid back delivery joined with his clever and eloquent lyricism was reminiscent of B.I.G himself – not to mention, Mase’s flow matched perfectly with the R&B-esque production style of Puff Daddy and his production team, The Hitmen. Besides Puff, other Hitmen Producers who worked on Harlem World included Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie, Carl “Chucky” Thompson, Nashiem Myrick, Carlos “6 July” Broady, and Stevie J. Dame Grease, Jermaine Dupri, and the then unknown Neptunes also contributed to the album’s production.

If Mase’s own lyrical ability and the all-star production lineup wasn’t enough to make Harlem World an instant classic, the list of featuring artists definitely did the trick. That list includes Jay Z, Monifah, DMX, The Lox, Kelis, 112, Total, Black Rob, Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, Kelly Price, and even 8Ball & MJG — just to name a few.

Although Mase’s initial exit from hip-hop was unexpected and his following releases became more sporadic, he has still managed to put his own stamp on the game. Mase is among the few rappers who have been able to collaborate with as many other legendary artists as he has. As a hip-hop fan, there’s simply no way to escape Mase’s entire catalogue of music despite how small it may be. Then again, why would you ever want to?

Check out the full album and “Feel So Good” music video above!

Written by DJ Robinson

— Twenty-three years ago, Snoop Dogg made his acting debut as he starred in the short film, Murder Was the Case, also creating the soundtrack.

Murder Was The Case

On this day back in 1994, Death Row Records released a bit of a treat for fans of hardcore West Coast Hip-Hop with the short film and soundtrack, Murder Was the Case. Snoop Dogg held the starring role as well as headlined the soundtrack while Dr. Dre and Fab Five Freddy directed the project. The 18-minute film recounted the fictional death of Snoop Dogg (played as himself) and his resurrection following a deal he made with the devil.

As Snoop Dogg intended, Murder Was the Case, revealed a side of the streets that couldn’t be shown on general music video platforms. In an interview regarding the film Snoop Dogg said,

“Videos, kind of limit us. MTV, BET, they only let you play so much of what you do… When we go in the studio [to make our songs] we make them hardcore and straight from the streets. So, this video is like a dedication to that… staying true to what we do, saying that we ain’t going to stick to making rated PG videos. This one is a rated R video just like the song is. It’s just real. It’s actuality.”

Still, behind the apparent violence, explicit dialogue, and sexually lewd behavior, Snoop Dogg makes it clear that he simply does what is necessary to make it through another day in the hood.

While the short film is only 18 minutes long, it has been padded with performances, interviews, and music videos including “Gin and Juice” and “Doggy Dogg World”. You can also find countless other important figures in the film and the included music videos including, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, Pam Grier, John Witherspoon, John Amos, and late comedians Ricky Harris and Charlie Murphy.

Check out the full movie including interviews, performances, and music videos below.

Written by DJ Robinson