Prodigy, born Albert Johnson, passed away on Tuesday, June 20 from sickle-cell-related complications. But during his time as one half of supergroup Mobb Deep, he showed us “how we do it in Queens” and left behind a legacy that will be etched into rap history. But like many rap legends from the ’90s — before the era of social media— details about P’s heritage are sparse.
A quick read of the rappers autobiography, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, turns up some unexpected details about the rapper’s fascinating life. Check out a few key points, below:
He Beefed With Tupac
Remember back when ‘Pac dropped the most memorable diss track of the East Coast/ West Coast rivalry? On Hit ‘Em Up, ‘Pac took aim at every East Coast rapper he could think of. Alongside the Outlawz, ‘Pac gave Notorious B.I.G., Puff Daddy, Mobb Deep and plenty other East Coast representers some bars. On the outro Shakur had some words for the Mobb, specifically Prodigy and his sickle-cell diagnosis.
Higher Education Ties
Prodigy’s musical roots isn’t all he got from the south— he’s got ties to an HBCU as well. His great-grandfather was the founder of Morehouse and opened up the first Post Office for Blacks in Atlanta.
“Before that, the black people had to travel 30 minutes out of their neighborhood to use the postal service,” Prodigy told Collegiate Netvision.
His Grandfather’s Contributions to Jazz
While Prodigy and Havoc have put on for Queens since the their gritty debut Juvenile Hell and chart topping The Infamous, Prodigy’s roots go way deeper down south thanks to his grandfather, Budd Johnson, and his great-uncle Keg Johnson. Budd was a talented jazz saxophonist and clarinetist who worked with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Billie Holliday. Keg on the other hand was a jazz trombonist. Both are remembered for their major contributions to the Bebop era of jazz.
His Mother Was Part of The Crystals
The lineage of music continues with Prodigy’s mom who was a former dancer and performed with the ‘60’s R&B group The Crystals. “It’s hard for me to share this. I Lost My Mom On Christmas eve. RIP Fatima. South Jamaica Queens finest. See u on the other side,” Prodigy wrote in an Instagram caption dedicated to his mom who passed in December 2016.
Prodigy, the Ladies Man
In his My Infamous Life autobiography, Prodigy said many famous women hit on him, including Keyshia Cole, Mary J. Blige, Lil Kim, and even Lindsay Lohan. According to P, Mary J. had him star-struck and he once danced all night with Lindsay Lohan.
Prodigy vs. Cam’ron: Who Wore it Best?
Prodigy believes he’s the reason Killa Cam started rocking pink to the extent that he did. In his autobiography, he talks about how the Harlem rapper wanted to be friends and started wearing the color after he saw Prodigy wearing it in Cali. “Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but I never saw Cam wear pink before that day in L.A.,” he wrote.