It’s now been over a year since the untimely death of rap legend Prodigy of Mobb Deep, but his legacy still lives on. In July, Urban Legends/UMe released the first official vinyl of Mobb Deep’s Juvenile Hell album to commemorate the album’s 25th anniversary.
Just two weeks ago, New York’s WNYC Studios debuted The Realness, a six-part podcast series reflecting on the life of Prodigy. He famously rhymed on “Quiet Storm” that “I put my lifetime in between the paper’s lines,” and WNYC looked to do exactly that over the airwaves. The Realness doesn’t just chronicle Prodigy’s music career, they explore the sickle cell anemia blood disorder, which he lived with his entire life and received heightened national awareness right as Prodigy was born.
The Realness, which is hosted by WNYC health reporters Mary Harris and Christopher Johnson spoke with several people in Prodigy’s life, including his brother, his former doctors, and his artistic peers including Big Twins and Roxanne Shante. They shed light on how sickle cell shaped his upbringing and worldview, the mortal qualms that led him to rap, and the manner in which he literally sacrificed himself to perform night in and night out for fans.
Prodigy toured heavily in the last decade of his life, which was a tiresome routine for anyone, much less someone who could be susceptible to a crushing pain that he admitted in his memoir felt like his bones were breaking. Still, a doctor on the show says that he told her he wouldn’t have it any other way. That passion for his craft is part of what made him a hip-hop icon, and what makes THE REALNESS essential listening.
You can start the six-part series here, or listen to episode one below.
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