Albert Johnson (born November 2, 1974), better known by his stage name Prodigy, is an American rapper and one half of the hip hop duo Mobb Deep with Havoc. He is the great-great-grandson of the founder of Morehouse College.
Prodigy in 2014
|Birth name||Albert Johnson|
November 2, 1974 |
Hempstead, New York
|Origin||Queens, New York, U.S.|
|Years active||1989 – present|
|Labels||Infamous Records RED (current)
E1, Relativity Records (former)
|Associated acts||Mobb Deep, The Alchemist, Big Noyd, Infamous Mobb, Nas, G-Unit|
Born in Hempstead, New York, Prodigy became a member of the duo Mobb Deep. He comes from a musical family—his grandfather, Budd Johnson, and his great-uncle Keg Johnson are remembered for their contributions to the Bebop era of jazz. His mother, Fatima Johnson, was a member of The Crystals. Propelled to awareness partially by fellow rapper Nas, who took a similar approach lyrically on his Illmatic album from 1994, as well as with the aid of a successful single, "Shook Ones Pt. 2," Mobb Deep released The Infamous in 1995 and sold over 500,000 within the first two months. A year and a half later, at the end of 1996, Prodigy and Havoc released Hell on Earth; debuting at number six on SoundScan the album was composed with both evocative beats and cinematic rhymes that communicated the dark side of New York's urban landscape. Due to a grim video for "Hell on Earth (Front Lines)" and theatrical Scarface-like photos inside the CD booklet picturing the duo with guns and a mound of cocaine, Mobb Deep had created an elaborate image for themselves that took hardcore gangsta rap to a new level for East Coast hip hop and the album sold over 500,000 units within the first two months again. Its next release, Murda Muzik, was heavily bootlegged while still in its demo stage, leaking, onto the streets and over the internet, rough versions of the nearly 30 songs the duo had recorded..
He started work on his third solo album H.N.I.C. Part 2, which was previewed on his official mixtape The Return of the Mac on the independent label Koch Records. The mixtape single and mixtape video are called "Mac 10 Handle,". H.N.I.C. Pt. 2 was released through Voxonic Inc., of which Prodigy is an equity holder. In late 2009, Mobb Deep was released from its contract with 50 Cent's G-Unit label. He recently served a three-year sentence in Mid-State medium-security prison, following a plea agreement stemming from a gun-possession charge. He was officially released on March 7, 2011.
Prodigy released an autobiography during spring 2011 entitled My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. It was co-written with Laura Checkoway and was published by Touchstone Books. Prodigy was recently featured in the 2011 documentary Rhyme and Punishment a film that documents Hip-Hop artists who have been incarcerated. The film documents Prodigy's trial and his last days before starting his prison sentence. During 2011, Prodigy released a free EP called The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP which is his first project since being released from prison. On April 21, a song titled "The Type", with Curren$y, was released on Curren$y's free album, entitled Covert Coup. Prodigy has spoken out against the secret society Illuminati. In 2013, Prodigy released his second collaboration album with The Alchemist titled Albert Einstein. Then on April 1, 2014, Mobb Deep released The Infamous Mobb Deep their eighth studio album. In August 2016, he released an untitled EP of 5 tracks, released in partnership with BitTorrent , an association that Prodigy had been working up for a while.
November 6, 2003, Prodigy was arrested in Cohoes, New York and charged with third degree criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of marijuana. Police reportedly recovered a .25 caliber handgun and marijuana on his person.
October 26, 2006, Prodigy was arrested in New York City and charged with criminal possession of a weapon. He was pulled over in a $120,000 customized bulletproof SUV after making an illegal u-turn around 2:15 AM. After conducting a search of the vehicle, police recovered a .22 caliber handgun in the center console.
October 8, 2007, Prodigy was sentenced to serve three and a half years in prison for illegal possession of a firearm. Originally facing a mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison, Prodigy struck a deal with the prosecution, and pleaded guilty in exchange for a 3 1⁄2-year prison sentence.
March 7, 2011, Prodigy was released from a mid state correctional facility in New Jersey after serving 3 years for criminal possession of a weapon. He had 6 months shaved off his original sentence for good behavior and remained on parole until 2014.
From 1995 to 1997, the media-fueled "East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry" was occurring. This "beef" started when Tha Dogg Pound released "New York, New York," to which Mobb Deep took offense as, in addition to the lyrics, the song's music video portrayed New York buildings being stomped on by Dogg Pound members. In response, Mobb Deep with Capone-N-Noreaga and Tragedy Khadafi released "LA, LA". 2Pac "dissed" Mobb Deep (along with The Notorious B.I.G.) in "Hit 'Em Up" where, in the outro of the song, he made a remark in clear reference to Prodigy's ailment in having sickle cell anemia: "Oh yeah, Mobb Deep, you wanna fuck with us?/You little young ass motherfuckers/Don't one of you niggas got sickle cell or something?/You're fucking with me nigga/You fuck around and catch a seizure or heart-attack/You better back the fuck up before you get smacked the fuck up". Mobb Deep responded in a track called "Drop A Gem On 'Em" which was released as a single after 2Pac was murdered, although the song was recorded before his death. 2Pac also dissed Mobb Deep on the song "Against All Odds" which was released after his death. But Prodigy later sampled 2Pac's voice from a freestyle for the chorus on the song "Return of the Mac" (a.k.a. "New York Shit") on his album with the same name. His affiliate and fellow rapper Majesty, who had made a song with 2Pac (which was never released) called "Big Time" (also featuring 2Pac's frequent collaborator Stretch and the late E-Moneybags) paid tribute to 2Pac on a skit called "Madge Speaks", on the same album.
On The Infamous track "The Infamous Prelude", Prodigy made remarks about rappers who rap about "smoking weed" and talk about "space shit". Def Squad took offense but the feud was settled when Prodigy and Keith Murray met at a video shoot. The feud was rekindled when Prodigy again referenced "space shit" in his appearance on LL Cool J's "I Shot Ya" which also featured Murray. Murray saw Prodigy at a club one night and punched him. Prodigy recalled the altercation and threatened Murray in the song "In the Long Run" on Hell on Earth. Murray released a song "Call My Name" on his Enigma album dissing Mobb Deep. The feud seemed to die down until Prodigy dissed Murray again in his 2004 song "Bad Blood." Murray has responded with numerous songs since.
On the night of September 19, 2007, after an impromptu performance by Saigon during a Mobb Deep show, words were exchanged between Saigon and Prodigy. This escalated into an argument, which resulted with Saigon punching Prodigy twice and running out the club. Two video versions of the events have since emerged. One version with slow motion footage says it shows a clear look of Saigon hiding under a table, while another video shows Saigon running away from the club. The feud has apparently died down, since Saigon had expressed happiness that Prodigy was coming home, in an interview two months before the rappers release. However Saigon kept the animosity going through his Facebook page.
While in prison, Prodigy wrote a letter about his disillusionment with hip hop and rappers. He directly referenced Crooked I's name in the rant about vibe.com's best rapper alive 2008, specifically commenting,
|“||Vibe says 920,000 people voted for it. I would personally b*tch slap all 920,000 of these voters if given the opportunity. Who in the f*ck picked Crooked I, Flo Rida and Rich Boy? How did Vibe approve this?||”|
Crooked I has since responded in a blog entry, challenging Prodigy to a one-on-one fight upon the rapper's release.
In July 2012, Prodigy's musical partner, Havoc, wrote a series of derogatory comments about Prodigy on Twitter, including accusing Prodigy of engaging in homosexual relationships in prison. At first, Havoc claimed that his Twitter account was hacked. However, he later confirmed that he wrote the tweets and expressed his frustrations with Prodigy in an interview with AllHipHop. He stated that Mobb Deep was on an "indefinite hiatus" until the duo worked out their differences. Havoc later released a diss track aimed at Prodigy titled "Separated (Real from the Fake)". Prodigy did not respond to Havoc's song but publicly stated that Mobb Deep would eventually reconcile. In March 2013, the duo announced that they had reconciled and were going on tour.
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- "Prodigy Interview: Pre-Prison Exclusive", DJBooth.net"
- Gargan, Scott (April 22, 2011). "Mobb Deep's 'Prodigy' chronicles 'infamous' life in new autobiography". stamfordadvocate.com. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
- What Would You Do by Laura Checkoway. XXL Magazine. January 2008
- Langhorne, Cyrus (November 10, 2009). "50 Cent Released Mobb Deep From G-Unit Records, Says Game Is Still Signed To His Label". Sohh.Com. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- Chandler, D.L. (March 7, 2011). "Mobb Deep Rapper Prodigy Released From Prison". MTV News. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
- "Curren$y f. Prodigy "The Type [Prod. Alchemist]"". Retrieved April 21, 2011.
- » by C. Vernon Coleman II August 5, 2011, 11:58am (August 5, 2011). "Prodigy Says The Illuminati Caused 9/11, Accuses Obama Of Being A Member [Video". Hip-Hop Wired. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- Horowitz, Steven J. (April 12, 2012). "Source Close To Mobb Deep Says They Will Never Release Another Album | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
- Lilah, Rose (August 5, 2016). "Prodigy releases untitled EP". Retrieved August 5, 2016.
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- Heinzelman, Bill. "Top 11 Diss Songs in Hip-Hop". UGO.com. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
- Reid, Shaheem; Joseph Patel; Rahman Dukes; Curtis Waller; Kimberly Rufen-Blanchette (January 28, 2005). "Mixtape Monday: Game and 50 On Fame-Haters; The Mobb Deep/Keith Murray Beef Goes On". MTV. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
- Saigon, Mobb Deep Get Into Physical Altercation During Music Showcase In New York BallerStatus.com (September 20, 2007). Retrieved December 19, 2007.
- Saigon Punches Prodigy of Mobb Deep HipHopDX.com (September 20, 2007). Retrieved November 21, 2007.
- Saigon Talks Fight With Prodigy Sohh.com (September 20, 2007). Retrieved November 21, 2007.
- Saigon Talks Prodigy Coming Home From Jail YouTube, 01/21/11.
- Langhorne, Cyrus (March 10, 2009). "Crooked I Lashes Back At Prodigy, "Fight Me One On One"". Sohh.Com. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
- "Mobb Deep’s Havoc Confirms He Sent ‘Gay’ Prodigy Tweets". MTV News.
- HipHopDX (April 9, 2012). "Havoc Denies Beef With Prodigy In Statement, Prodigy Tweets Claiming "We Set Traps"". HipHopDX.
- "AllHipHop » Exclusive Video: Havoc Speaks Out About Prodigy Rumors And Says Mobb Deep Is On “Hiatus….Indefinitely”". AllHipHop.
- Horowitz, Steven J. (July 27, 2012). "Havoc Says Mobb Deep Is On An "Indefinite Hiatus," Confirms He Blasted Prodigy On Twitter". HipHop DX. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- HipHopDX (January 10, 2013). "Prodigy Says He's Sure There Will Be Another Mobb Deep Album". HipHopDX.
- Mobb Deep Explains Fallout & Reunion. xxlmag.com. March 23, 2013
- Lyons, Patrick (2015-08-26). "Prodigy Announces New Album "The Hegelian Dialectic"". Hotnewhiphop.com. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
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