A mural to honor the late rapper Prodigy — one-half of the rap group Mobb Deep — in Long Island City was officially painted over after it was defaced twice, but organizers are looking to turn the unfortunate event into a community project.
Artists Jeff Henriquez and Eli Lazare recently painted a mural of the rapper near the Queensbridge Houses, where Mobb Deep spent much of their time. The mural stood at 13th Street and 40th Avenue on the wall of Urban Upbound, a nonprofit that is “dedicated to breaking cycles of poverty in New York City public housing and other low-income neighborhoods.”
But just two days later, white paint was splattered all over the mural. Though Henriquez restored it, the perpetrator struck again on July 10 and poured red paint over the mural. The artists eventually decided to paint over it to stop the vandalism.
According to Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, the co-founder and CEO of Urban Upbound, the vandal destroyed the nonprofit’s awning and sidewalk. Though the organization tried removing the paint, it is forced to purchase a new awning.
“I feel horrible about the fact that a tribute we erected to honor, acknowledge and highlight the artistry of Prodigy, who was a tremendous writer and rapper and did a lot of work in our community [was defaced],” Taylor said.
Urban Upbound has decided to start a fundraiser to provide the artists with a stipend that would allow them to design and paint another mural, this time with the help of children and young adults in the community. The organization is looking to raise $20,000, which will cover a stipend for the artists of the new mural; money for a new awning; and repairs to the sidewalk.
As soon as the organization can raise enough money, the artists will start working on “a mural that the community will participate in and can take pride in,” Taylor said. He added that the mural will be “Queensbridge-centric.”
“I always say a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” Taylor said. “Rather than giving them a chance to deface it again, we decided we’re going to take it down and find other ways to memorialize the memory of that young man.”
To honor Prodigy, Urban Upbound will hold a tribute to the rapper at their gala on Oct. 25 at City Winery in Manhattan.
Urban Upbound was created by Taylor, a lifelong Queensbridge Houses resident, in 2004. The nonprofit provides employment services for youth and adults, financial counseling, income support services, community revitalization and financial inclusion in the form of the Urban Upbound Federal Credit Union.
DNAinfo first reported the story.