Mobb Deep’s Prodigy dies at 42

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2016 file photo, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy poses for a photo in New York. Albert J
Prodigy of Mobb Deep in 2016.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Prodigy, one half of the revered hip-hop group Mobb Deep, has died. He was 42.

After performing in Las Vegas over the weekend, the rapper, born Albert Johnson, was hospitalized for complications caused by sickle cell disease, his publicist said. He was found unconscious Tuesday morning.

“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 N.Y. rap duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis,” a statement from the group’s representative read.

“As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”

News of Prodigy’s passing first broke when collaborator Nas posted a tribute to the rapper on Instagram. “QB RIP King P. Prodigy 4 Ever,” he wrote.

Born in Hempstead, N.Y., Johnson was part of a family with deep musical connections. His mother, Fatima Johnson, who died late last year, had performed with ’60s girl group the Crystals. His grandfather, Budd Johnson, was a respected jazz saxophonist.

Albert Johnson formed Mobb Deep with rapper-producer Havoc in the early ’90s. The duo released its first album, “Juvenile Hell,” in 1993 but broke out with 1995’s “The Infamous,” which was certified gold by the Recording Industry Assn. of America for shipments of more than 500,000 copies.

The Times once described “The Infamous” as a “dazzling album” that served as “a soundtrack for a lost generation of wild kids roaming the grimy New York streets in search of the next cheap thrill, illegal gain or suicidal showdown.”

Mobb Deep last released an album in 2014, “The Infamous Mobb Deep.” The group was respected for its relentlessly hard-core take on East Coast hip-hop, with The Times describing another one of the act’s albums as a “brutal batch of barbaric assaults with uncompromising edge.”

Prodigy launched his solo career in 2000 with “H.N.I.C." He released his fifth solo album, “Hegelian Dialectic (The Book of Revelation),” earlier this year.

Last year he published "Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook,” a collection of recipes inspired by his three-year jail stint due to criminal possession of a weapon. He was released in 2011, and the book features meals created by inmates using the few ingredients available at the jail commissary.

Mobb Deep was in Vegas performing as part of the Art of Rap tour — a mega-bill of veteran hip-hop acts including Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One and Ice-T. The group was due to perform June 30 in Newark, N.J.

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