Hip-hop fans around the world are in mourning as Prodigy, the legendary Mobb Deep rapper from New York City, passed away Tuesday. Prodigy, born Albert Johnson, was 42 years old.
Fans began expressing grief on social media soon after fellow Queens rapper Nas posted news of his death on Instagram early in the afternoon. Prodigy’s death was later confirmed by a representative for Mobb Deep in a statement to Rolling Stone.
Prodigy had just performed on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada with his partner Havoc, as well as KRS-One, Ice-T, Ghostface Killah and Onyx.
“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,” Mobb Deep’s publicist said in the statement.
“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.”
The grandson of jazz legend Budd Johnson, Prodigy formed Mobb Deep in the early 1990s alongside Havoc while studying at New York's High School of Art and Design.
Only a few years after the duo appeared on the Stretch & Bobbito radio show, their 1995 album “The Infamous” became a classic. With his notorious “Shook Ones Pt. II” and several other tracks, Prodigy's uncompromising flow allowed him to emerge as one of the sharpest lyricists of his time. The Queens native portrayed the cruel reality of street life in New York which resonates with millions of people.
He later started a solo career, which included the acclaimed hit “Keep it Thoro” in 2000 and the record album “Return of the Mac” produced by The Alchemist. His latest appearance was a feature on rapper AZ's video single “Save Them” earlier this month, which also included a verse by Raekwon and an archived speech by Minister Louis Farrakhan.