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PRODIGY, 1974-2017

Prodigy, one half of the hip-hop duo Mobb Deep, famous for its uncompromising view of New York street life, was found dead on Tuesday in Las Vegas, three days after performing on the Art of Rap tour with Ghostface Killah, KRS-One, Ice-T and Onyx. He was 42.

His publicist released a statement saying Prodigy was hospitalized after the performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis.

“As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth,” the statement read. “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.”

Born Albert Johnson in Queens, N.Y., Prodigy and his partner Havoc came of age in the mid- to late 1990s alongside Nas and Notorious B.I.G. with a viewpoint rooted in the harsh reality of life around the Queensbridge housing projects.

Their Loud/RCA albums The Infamous, Hell on Earth and Murda Muzik were instant East Coast hardcore classics, and between 1995 and 2006, they landed seven albums in the Top 30. Both 2006’s Blood Money and Murda Muzik from 1999 reached #3; they reunited for an eighth album, 2014’s The Infamous Mobb Depp. Their song “Shook Ones, Pt. II” is a classic of the era.

Their rise came as the East Coast-West Coast rap feuds were heating up. They were guests on Capone-N-Noreaga's “L.A., L.A.”; Tupac targeted Prodigy, referencing his disease on “When We Ride on Our Enemies.”

He went solo in 2000 with H.N.I.C. (Columbia), releasing 10 albums under his own name, Hegelian Dialectic: The Book of Revelation coming out in January.

After their success in the ‘90s, Mobb Depp created their own label, Infamous, releasing 2004's Amerikaz Nightmare with Jive and Blood Money with G-Unit/Interscope. Prodigy’s career was put on hold when he went to prison on a weapons charge for three years, getting released in March 2011.The son of musicians—his mother Fatima Johnson was in The Crystals when she went by Francis Collins and his father Budd Johnson was a jazz saxophonist—his autobiography, My Infamous Life, was published after his release from prison. He also wrote a prison cookbook.

In 2013, after a few years of hurling insults at one another, the duo reunited for 20th anniversary tour and the album The Infamous Mobb Deep.

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