Prodigy, Half of Rap Duo Mobb Deep, Dead at 42

By MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Rapper Prodigy, a member of the hardcore New York hip-hop duo Mobb Deep, has died. He was 42.

The rapper’s publicist said in a statement Tuesday that Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Las Vegas “for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis.” Prodigy has battled sickle cell since birth and was in Las Vegas for a performance.

The exact cause of death was not clear, the representative said.

Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg told The Associated Press in Las Vegas that it could take up to six weeks to determine a cause of death. But he said foul play was not suspected. Officer Laura Meltzer said Las Vegas police were not called to investigate the death.

Prodigy was born in New York. He found success in the ’90s with fellow rapper Havoc in Mobb Deep. The duo’s hits included “Quiet Storm” with Lil Kim, “Shook Ones (Part II)” and “Hey Luv (Anything).”

“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,” the statement read from Prodigy’s publicist. “We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”

Nas, who is also from Queens, New York, called Prodigy a “king” in an Instagram post. Prodigy’s rap partner, Havoc, posted two photos on Instagram, one with the caption: “Forever.” And Lil Wayne tweeted: “Rap game lost a legend the world lost a G.”

Others, from Sean “Diddy” Combs to Q-Tip, also paid tribute to Prodigy, who was often praised for his skilled rhymes and lyrics.

Mobb Deep earned a platinum plaque for the 1999 album, “Murda Muzik,” which featured the memorable remix of “Quiet Storm,” still performed by Lil Kim on the road today. The duo also reached gold status with the albums “Infamy,” ”Hell on Earth” and “The Infamous.”

Prodigy released several solo albums, including the gold-selling “H.N.I.C.” 2000.

He released a cookbook of prison recipes last year, based on his time in jail. The book, “commissary kitchen: my infamous prison cookbook,” was released on Infamous, Prodigy’s own imprint at Brooklyn-based Akashic Books.

He said being in prison changed him. Prodigy served most of a 3.5-year sentence in a medium-security dorm at Mid-State Correctional Facility near Utica, New York, after a plea deal on a weapons possession charge in 2007.

“It made me realize the gravity, the reality of having everything taken from you. My career, my family, my freedom,” he told The Associated Press in an interview last year.

The rapper, who is a father of two, said it was hard to leave his kids who were young when he went to prison.

“I just tell them, you know, it was horrible. You don’t ever want to be in that position. Learn from my mistakes. Learn from me. You don’t have go through it yourself,” he said.

____

Associated Press Writer Ken Ritter contributed to this report from Las Vegas.

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