By Gina Martinez
Queensbridge rapper Prodigy, one half of the famous rap group Mobb Deep, died Tuesday after a brief hospitalization. He was 42.
The rapper, whose real name is Albert Johnson, battled sickle cell anemia for years. He was in Las Vegas for a Mobb Deep performance at the time of his death.
Prodigy rose to fame in the early ’90s alongside rap partner Havoc. They released their first album “Juvenile Hell” in 1993, but reached success with their sophomore album “The Infamous,” which featured the hits “Shook Ones Pt. 2” and “Survival of the Fittest.”
The group became part of the hip-hop elite and collaborated with Wu-Tang Clan, 50 Cent and fellow Queensbridge rapper Nas throughout the years.
Mobb Deep had continued success in the ’90s. The group was involved in the infamous East Coast vs. West Coast beef, which began after L.A. rap group Tha Dogg Pound released the diss track “New York, New York.”
The video showed Snoop Dogg kicking down buildings in New York. Mobb Deep, along with Capone-N-Noreaga, responded with “L.A, L.A.” In the hook, Prodigy rapped “L.A., L.A., big city of dreams, But everything in L.A. ain’t always what it seems. You might get fooled if you come from outta town, Cos we coming from Queens it gets down.”
In 2007, Prodigy was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for illegal possession of a firearm. He was released in 2011 from Mid-State Correctional Facility in Marcy, N.Y. After a brief break-up, Mobb Deep reunited in 2014 to release their final album “The Infamous Mobb Deep.”
The group was on the The Art of Rap tour, alongside rappers Ice-T, Ghostface Killah, Onyx and KRS-One. Prodigy performed his last show at a Vegas stop earlier this week before his death.
Celebrities took to twitter to write their condolences.
Southeast Queens-born Russell Simmons tweeted “Love and light to the family and friends of Prodigy. One of Queens’ finest. He will be greatly missed. “Rapper Joe Budden tweeted “Rest In Peace Prodigy … HipHop will miss you.”
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