Rapper Prodigy of the legendary hip-hop duo Mobb Deep, best known for the classic gangsta anthem “Shook Ones Part II,” has died at 42, TMZ reported.
He had battled sickle cell anemia for decades, although the cause of death is currently unknown. With his partner Havoc, he rose from the Queensbridge housing projects, composed classic rhymes and even beefed with Tupac Shakur.
“It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep,” the rapper’s publicist said in a statement to Complex. “Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”
Prodigy performed in Las Vegas over the weekend at the “Art of Rap” tour along with Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One and Ice-T. Last week, Jay Z mentioned dozens of rappers who have inspired him over the years, and Mobb Deep was included in his list.
“Shook Ones” is one of the most referenced songs in hip-hop history, catching mentions from rappers ranging from Eminem to Fabolous. The instrumental of the song appears at a crucial scene in Eminem‘s “8 Mile” and Fabolous whimsically quoted the song in his hit with Nate Dogg, “Can’t Deny It.”
Havoc and Prodigy were among the many MCs called out in Shakur’s most infamous diss track, “Hit ‘Em Up,” in which he also boasted of having sex with Notorious B.I.G.’s wife, Faith Evans. Shakur made fun of Prodigy’s battle with sickle cell anemia on the track.
Upon hearing the news, members of the hip-hop community took to social media to share their condolences. Nas, for example, posted a picture of Prodigy with the caption, “QB RIP King P. Prodigy 4 Ever.”
Prodigy’s representatives have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.