When I got the news of Prodigy’s passing, I needed a moment. I escaped to a nearby meditation room on the college campus I work at but before I could make it, tears began to run down. I had to stop and tell my older brother- the person who put me onto Mobb Deep when I was 9. When I broke the news to him, he was frozen in time. For the next 5 minutes, our conversation consisted of a loud silence. We both knew this loss was poignant. We not only lost a legend in rap but also a family member. Resonating with his words, P was someone we could confide in at important times in our lives. In a lot of us, he helped shape who we were at the time and who we’d become.
Prodigy was a poetical prophet, an MC that never wasted a rhyme on any track nor minced words on how he felt about anyone in Hip-Hop, his world and everything in between. Most importantly, his storytelling felt raw and authentic. Perhaps rap’s greatest opening rhymer, within the first two bars you felt compelled to listen to what he had to say. His vulnerability and sheer evocativeness set him apart from his own. P painted pictures of pain like no one else could. Whether it was telling us he’d “stab your brain with your nose bone” or pleading his enemies for caution because the “the next rhyme I write might be about you”, Prodigy was serious. With his description and classic colloquialisms- the Dunn language-, P let you into his world and by the end of a Mobb record, you felt like you were next of kin dealing with the rising temperatures of New York City in the 90s. With P, you didn’t have to be from QueensBridge or Long Island to feel his pain, let alone relate. As a listener, you felt like you were an instrumental part of his coping and in turn, finding solace in your own strife. In essence, P’s influence shouldn’t be understated. Prodigy saved lives and raised generations of Hip-Hop heads all around the world. The Infamous forever reigns in rap lure as a revered classic. Further, with subsequent albums and projects, the argument for Mobb Deep being perhaps Rap’s greatest duo is teflon strong. Mobb Deep was the quintessential sound of New York Hip-Hop.
With P’s passing, it’s not only the end of Prodigy’s lyrical canon but even more painful, the end of Mobb Deep. Havoc & P. With Hav’s brash hi hats and knocking beats, Prodigy flowed over records in ways only he could. The same energy you heard on wax was the same you saw in the physical form. Last year, I was blessed with a chance to interview the infamous Mobb before their show at The National in Richmond, VA. Like many have shared since the news, Prodigy was always open to share his energy and time with others, breaking bread and dropping gems on em’. For 30 minutes I got to kick it with dudes that I saw as superheroes growing up. P was a humble, down to earth cat off wax. Seeing him with his two seeds that night was humbling- showing just how far he’d come since Juvenile Hell. P wasn’t just a rapper, he was an author and father. To say the least, P will surely be missed. Thank you for the soundtracks to some of the most crucial moments in my life. Thank you for fulfilling a dream of mine that night as well- an exchange I’ll never forget.
Rest well on your Up North Trip P and hold ya head Hav.
Follow Muk Jalloh at @Mukwrites