The rap game is losing so many of its great artists. As I am sure you have all heard by now, Prodigy of Mobb Deep passed away today at 42. As was widely known, he suffered from sickle cell anemia his entire life. Prodigy was one half of the Queens rap duo, Mobb Deep, a group that was a staple of 1990’s New York hip-hop. Along with Havoc, Prodigy laid down some of the toughest verses in rap. Besides Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep was one of those groups that defined the sound of East Coast rap. Their most popular song “Shook Ones. Pt. 2” was the cautionary tale directed at pseudo gangsters of those times.
The entire hip hop community is in mourning, and remembering his musical contributions as well. Mobb Deep had a good run as far as the popularity of their gritty, NYC sound, and being involved with major beefs in the rap industry. In the 2000’s, Prodigy would also embark on a successful solo career, producing memorable joints like “Keep it Thoro”
One aspect of Prodigy’s life that so far I see is not being emphasized was his growing awareness. Fans saw it in minor ways, like the verse Prodigy dropped in the “I Shot Ya” remix. Prodigy was aware, before “woke” became a commodity- being mostly about how it is performed in public. He referenced secret societies, and appeared on shows like Infowars. Sometimes, his rhymes would be peppered with a conspiracist outlook on history and current events. Since we live in a country where ideology is discouraged, and everything is said to be relative, people often struggle with putting together a coherent worldview. Everybody will hurry up and tell you that they don’t believe in any “isms” for example. Despite this reality, Prodigy dealt with a lot of heavy topics in ways that many artists were unwilling.
The title of his last solo album is “Hegelian Dialectic” – named after the theory of change by 19th century German philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Without getting into too much theory, it is the idea that things change by going through three phases: thesis (problem) , anti-thesis(reaction), and synthesis(solution), the final result of the matter. It is also the notion that our perceptions shape our reality. As many historians and philosophers know, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who were Young Hegelians counter posed this theory with what came to be known as dialectical materialism, which posits that material conditions determine and shape our reality. This was the “turning of Hegel on its head.” This is all pretty weighty stuff for a hip hop record. But, Prodigy put this out, earlier this year, and unfortunately it was overlooked. The rap game, unfortunately has embraced this notion that only relevant read: popular rappers deserved to be discussed. After an artist is no longer “hot”, people stop checking for their work, even though their content changes and gets better as they learn more about life.
Prodigy would write an autobiography, as well as speak on issues like GMO’s and the necessity to think about things differently. He gave us a great body of music, and he left his mark on hip hop. Prodigy will forever S-H-I-N-E.