by Will Johnson, “The Uncommon Librarian,” Northwood Branch Manager
Hip Hop has lost another legend. Albert Johnson, also known as “Prodigy,” succumbed to his battle with Sickle cell disease at the age of 42. One half of the Mobb Deep duo, Prodigy was known for his poignant rhymes, storytelling, and bringing the struggle of growing up in Queens, New York to life. Baltimore isn’t Queens, but Mobb Deep’s music spoke about the grittiness of growing up in Queensbridge Housing Projects, the biggest housing project in North America. His music also spoke to the struggle a lot of young black men deal with across the country.
Prodigy began his rapping career at the age of sixteen. His first album was called Juvenile Hell. The album was not a commercial success however; it prepped Mobb Deep for their critically acclaimed second album The Infamous. The album produced four singles that reached billboard status; “Shook Ones Pt. II“, “Survival of the Fittest“, “Temperature’s Rising“, “Give Up the Goods (Just Step)“. Rolling Stone listed “Shook Ones Pt. II” on their list of 50 Greatest Hip Hop Songs Of All Times.
Over the year’s Prodigy released five albums as a soloist and seven albums as a member of Mobb Deep. He also authored four books, including: My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, H.N.I.C: An Infamous Novella and Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook.
Click on the images to link to materials in the library catalog.
You can also listen to a podcast of his 2011 Writers LIVE program.