Rap music is mourning another fallen soldier today. Albert ‘Prodigy’ Johnson, one half of the Queens, N.Y. duo Mobb Deep, has died.
“It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep,” the statement read. “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. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”
Prodigy and his Mobb Deep cohort, Havoc, grew up together in Queens, New York City and broke into hip-hop with a raw, vivid and vicious distillation of East Coast gangsta rap. The pair released their first demo together in 1992 under the name Poetical Prophets, which they followed up a year later with their Mobb Deep debut, Juvenile Hall. While that record wasn’t well received, their 1995 follow-up The Infamous, remains a hardcore NYC classic and features one of the group’s signature songs, “Shook Ones Pt. II.”
Born Albert Johnson 42 years ago in Queens, Prodigy was born to a musical family. His mother, then Frances Collins was a member of the 60’s girl group the Crystals and his grandfather Budd Johnson was a bebop saxophonist.
Known and respected as one of the classic New York hardcore hip-hop groups, Prodigy and Havoc are best known for their 90’s hits “Shook Ones Pt. II,” Survival of the Fittest” and “Quiet Storm” with Li’l Kim. The first lines of “Shook Ones” ‘To all the killers and the hundred dollar billers” is one of the most famous opening lines in hip-hop.
Prodigy was remembered via social media: