Prodigy, the rapper who made up half of the legendary Queens duo Mobb Deep, has died at the age of 42.
TMZ writes that at the time of his death Prodigy was in Las Vegas, where Mobb Deep performed on Saturday as part of the throwback Art of Rap Tour.
According to a 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.”
Born Albert Johnson, Prodigy grew up in Hempstead, Long Island before his family moved to LeFrak City. As a teenager, Prodigy and his schoolmate Havoc fell in with a milieu of up-and-coming musicians centered around the Queensbridge Houses and, after a short-lived stint as Poetical Prophets, formed the hard-boiled Mobb Deep.
The group released its seminal album The Infamous in 1995, its cinematic menace most famously encapsulated on the East Coast street-rap classic "Shook Ones Pt. 2."
The album peaked at #18 on the Billboard 200, but had an outsized impact on rap and remains a cultural touchstone. Prodigy continued to perform and record, solo and as part of Mobb Deep, through a series of legal tribulations and turbulence in his relationship with Havoc. Though Mobb Deep never regained the prominence and influence of its 1990s run, Prodigy remained prolific in recent years, retaining the ability to pack clubs and festival pens, across the New York area and around the world.
Writing from prison where he was serving time for gun possession in 2008, Prodigy reflected, "My hardheaded ass took the long rocky road to get to this point, but at least I've finally made it." He published a memoir, My Infamous Life, in 2012, and a prison cookbook in 2016.
A call and an email to booking agents was not immediately returned.