Prodigy of Mobb Deep died in Las Vegas — the same place as a rapper he battled in life, the late great Tupac Shakur. His death came just four days after Pac’s June 16 birthday, which this year coincided with the release of Lionsgate’s biopic about the rapper, “All Eyez On Me.”
The feud peaked in 1996, when Tupac called out Mobb Deep in the diss track to end all diss tracks, “Hit ‘Em Up,” in which a take-no-prisoners Tupac brought up Prodigy’s lifelong struggle with sickle-cell anemia.
“Oh yeah, Mobb Deep: you wanna f— with us?
You little young-ass motherfuckers
Don’t one of you n—s got sickle-cell or somethin’?
You’re f—‘ with me, n—
You f— around and have a seizure or a heart attack”
According to possibly apocryphal hip-hop lore, Mobb Deep, the duo Prodigy formed with partner Havoc, raised Pac’s ire when his crew, the Outlawz, told him about the hook to Mobb Deep’s “Survival of the Fittest,” which had the refrain “Thug life, we still living it.” Pac, in jail at the time, reportedly took that as a personal affront — he did, after all, have “Thug Life” tattooed on his stomach.
Mobb Deep responded to “Hit ‘Em Up” with “Drop a Gem On ‘Em” from their 1996 album, “Hell on Earth.” It referenced a longstanding rumor that Shakur was sexually assaulted while serving a stint at New York’s Rikers Island jail.
“Drop a Gem On ‘Em” was the first promotional single from the album, but in an annotation on lyrics site Genius, Prodigy said the duo pulled the song off the radio once they got word Shakur had been shot dead in Las Vegas in September 1996.
But Mobb Deep didn’t remove the song from the record itself.
“We still put it on the album,” Prodigy said in his annotation.
Mobb Deep never actually met 2Pac in the flesh before he was gunned down — not that that prevented Pac from going all in on Prodigy’s blood cells. But Mobb Deep didn’t care — they knew that mention would help their bottom line.
“I was happy about it,” Havoc told Jack Thriller of ThisIs50 last year. “The n— saying our names. I didn’t know what the f— the beef was about. I didn’t even care. I was like damn, did you hear that? 2Pac dissing us. We about to sell some records.”