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Born: November 2, 1974
Died: June 20, 2017
Biography (via AllMusic): Albert Johnson (November 2, 1974 – June 20, 2017), better known by his stage name Prodigy, was an American rapper, actor and author who was one half of the hip hop duo Mobb Deep with Havoc.
Prodigy was born on November 2, 1974, in Hempstead, New York. He had one elder brother, Greg Johnson. He came from a musical family. His grandfather Budd Johnson was a saxophonist, and his grand-uncle, Keg Johnson, was a trombonist. Both of them are remembered for their contributions to the Bebop era of jazz. His mother, Fatima Frances (Collins) Johnson, was a member of The Crystals. His father, Budd Johnson Jr., was a member of a Doo wop music group called The Chanters. His great-great-great-grandfather, William Jefferson White, founded Georgia's Morehouse College.
Prodigy grew up in LeFrak City. While attending the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, he met his future music partner, Havoc. The duo became the "Poetical Prophets,” before choosing the name "The Infamous Mobb Deep.” Under the alias Lord-T (The Golden Child), the then 16-year-old Johnson joined Jive Records and landed an uncredited guest appearance on the Boyz N The Hood soundtrack, for his collaborative efforts on the song "Too Young" by Hi-Five in 1991.
Initially compared to fellow rapper Nas, who took a similar approach lyrically on his Illmatic album from 1994, Mobb Deep released The Infamous in 1995, which was certified Gold by the RIAA within the first two months of its release. A year and a half later, at the end of 1996, Prodigy and Havoc released Hell on Earth, which debuted at number six on SoundScan. The group’s next release, Murda Muzik, was heavily bootlegged while still in its demo stage, leaking, onto the streets and over the internet, rough versions of the nearly 30 songs the duo had recorded.
In November 2000, Prodigy released his debut solo album H.N.I.C.. His follow up solo album would be released in 2008.
But during the next 6 years, between the release of his first two solo albums, Prodigy continued to work with Mobb Deep, releasing Infamy in 2001, Amerikaz Nightmare in 2004, and Blood Money in 2006.
During this time, Prodigy had started work on his second solo album H.N.I.C. Part 2, which was first previewed on his official mixtape The Return of the Mac, and was later released on the independent label Koch Records. The mixtape single, together with the mixtape video, was called "Mac 10 Handle". Prodigy then released H.N.I.C. Pt. 2 through Voxonic Inc., a company in which he was an equity holder. In late 2009, Mobb Deep was released from its contract with 50 Cent's G-Unit label.
During this time period, Prodigy was served with a three-year sentence in Mid-State medium-security prison, following a plea agreement stemming from a gun-possession charge. He was officially released on March 7, 2011.
Prodigy was featured in the 2009 documentary, Rhyme and Punishment, a film that documented Hip-Hop artists who have been incarcerated. In 2011, Prodigy released a free EP called The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP which was his first project after he was released from prison. On April 21, a song titled "The Type", with Curren$y, was released on Curren$y's free album, entitled Covert Coup.
In 2011, Prodigy released his autobiography, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep's Prodigy. It was co-written with Laura Checkoway and published by Touchstone Books.
In 2013, Prodigy released his second collaboration album with the Alchemist titled Albert Einstein. On April 1, 2014, Mobb Deep released The Infamous Mobb Deep, their eighth studio album. In August 2016, he released an untitled EP of five tracks, released in partnership with BitTorrent, an association that Prodigy had been working up for a while.
In an interview with Vibe in November 2000, Prodigy spoke about what inspired him to directly address his battle with sickle-cell anemia in his song "You Can Never Feel My Pain", from his debut studio album H.N.I.C. He attributes his nihilism to the "permanent physical suffering" caused by his lifelong battle with the condition.
On June 20, 2017, it was reported that Prodigy had died in Las Vegas, Nevada, after having been hospitalized a few days earlier for complications related to his sickle-cell anemia. He was performing in the Art of Rap Tour in Las Vegas with Havoc, Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One, and Ice-T when he was hospitalized. According to the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner, the exact cause of death was accidentally choking on an egg while still hospitalized.