This isn't exactly the kind of cheerful update I'd like to share on my birthday, but life doesn't let us get to pick and choose bad news, nor did it let Albert Johnson b/k/a Prodigy get to choose whether or not to suffer from sickle-cell disease from the time he was born.
Unfortunately a crisis brought on by that disease cost Prodigy his life in Las Vegas, where he was performing on the Art of Rap Tour alongside his Mobb Deep partner Havoc plus an all-star line-up including Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One and Ice-T. It appears at this time that Prodigy died at the hospital where he was being treated after suffering from dehydration and exhaustion at one of the tour events. Details are still in flux at this time.
Prodigy overcame both his childhood ailments and his troubled family to become a successful recording artist alongside fellow Queensbridge Housing comrade Havoc (Kejuan Machita). Their first taste of mainstream success was a mention in the "Unsigned Hype" column of The Source, though at the time they went by the name Poetical Prophets. A name change to Mobb Deep preceded their first album "Juvenile Hell," which made some minor noise off the strength of the single "Peer Pressure." However it wasn't until a few years later when they got a little older and their voices dropped a little lower that their legacy was truly established on "The Infamous," an album now lyrically and musically regarded as an all-time East coast rap classic. "Shook Ones (Pt. II)" became an anthem.
In a career spanning three decades, Mobb Deep would go on to release one platinum and three gold albums, with an estimated six million+ records sold combined. Prodigy also had a successful career as a solo artist, including the gold selling "H.N.I.C." in 2000. Unfortunately some of Prodigy's most potentially productive years were taken away after his arrest in October 2006 for illegal possession of a firearm, and subsequent plea agreement almost a year later, causing him to the next spend 3.5 years in prison. Prodigy wrote his autobiography while behind bars, and after a brief feud with Havoc, the two reconciled and returned to touring together as noted above.
There are too many notable records Prodigy made, and too many aptly "infamous" moments in his life to list them all here, though many heads will recall Mobb Deep's participation in the East coast/West coast feud of the 90's, and the unforgettable diss from Tupac Shakur where he warned Prodigy that "one of you n---az got sickle cell or something (and) you f--k around with me and (you'll) catch a seizure or heart-attack" on the song "Hit 'Em Up."Despite that dire prediction Prodigy had another two decades as a man and an artist before the grim reaper finally caught up to him. Our condolences to his family, his friends, and millions of fans worldwide.
A statement from Prodigy's publicist: "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. 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."
This week we take a closer look at Southside Movement's funky 1973 classic "I Been Watching You." SM had an unfortunately short run for such an interesting group, releasing their self-titled debut in 1973 and ultimately disbanding in 1975. The group consisted of vocalist Melvin Moore, guitarist Bobby Pointer, keyboardist Morris Beeks, bassist Ronald Simmons, drummer Willie Hayes, alto saxophonist Milton Johnson, trumpeter Stephen Hawkins, and trombonist Bill McFarland. That's quite the ensemble cast to come together to play some funky music and then abruptly call it quits and go their separate ways. I'm sure there's got to be a good book out there somewhere that explains why and I need to find it and read it. They originally came together as the backup band for Simtec & Wylie, another group whose career did not expand beyond the 1970's.
My first exposure to Southside Movement was like so many hip-hop samples in my childhood shrouded in obscurity. Nobody told me that Scarface's "PD Roll 'Em" sampled them, and the liner notes inserted into Rap-A-Lot Records would not have done me any favors either. Many of them were a one sided sheet with just the cover artwork and nothing on the back. That might sound thrifty and cheap by today's standards, but you weren't buying Rap-A-Lot albums to know what songs were sampled anyway. You just wanted to hear stone cold gangsters like "Mister Mister Brad" tearing up the tracks.
It's only later that I learned the name of the group and song that Scarface's song first introduced me to, and that was only through the accident of hearing it in OTHER rap songs. That distinctive bass line of "I Been Watching You" is hard to miss any time, anywhere that you hear it. Here are three other examples of this stone cold groove.
* Cormega - "American Beauty"
* Ghostface Killah f/ Cap, Raekwon - "Camay"
* Jadakiss f/ Nas - "Show Discipline"
For the next seven days it's your chance to vote on which one of these four songs used Southside Movement best. Make your voice heard! Who Sampled It Better?
"Who Sampled It Better" returns with "I Been Watching You" by Southside Movement! Vote now.
MWO: Like “One Chance” before it, this video is also directed by Olise Forel for Moving Silence. And while the preceding visuals took Whiteowl through the wilderness and showed off his eccentric side, “Pickle Juice” is much more grounded and realistic.
T.R.: Multifaceted entertainer Keke Palmer has returned with a hot new single for Summer 2017 "Wind Up" featuring Quavo and just released the vibrant visuals today.
Audio: EsoXoSupreme - "Cut You Off" (prod. DJ Pain 1)
A.R.: Up and coming artist EsoXoSupreme is back with wavy new music entitled "Cut You Off" produced by DJ Pain 1. After a successful run at SXSW and a huge show at Webster Hall for his NYC debut, EsoXoSupreme is back in his lane, dropping love-inspired anthems. "Cut You Off" finds Eso telling his lover it's time to go in order for them to grow.
Video: Roccwell x Empuls x DJ Jaffa - "Apostle of Dope"
Goon: After releasing bangers with Ruste Juxx, Craig G, Born Unique and Dro Pesci in the recent past, Munich/Germany based beatmaker Roccwell now teams up with Virginia's own Empuls (Man Bites Dog Records/Stone Maple Music Works) and DJ Jaffa from Wales to bring you the golden era inspired boombap sound - nothing more and nothing less.
Matt: Koache and Lotzah Ent presents Young Reefer J’s new single "Saucin” (Produced by King Mezzy). Reefer uses his melodies confidently and to express how he's enjoying life. “Saucin” is taken from Reefer’s forthcoming EP, No Boundary, which will be released this summer.
PR: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony & Outlawz - "Thug Brothers 2"
Matt: A decade in the making, Krayzie Bone and Young Noble’s Thug Brothers 2 is the follow up to the highly-successful collaboration project from two of hip hop’s legendary groups; Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Outlawz.
The first Thug Brothers album was a collaborative effort by Layzie Bone and Young Noble, but for the sequel, Krayzie Bone picks up where Layzie Bone left off. There is an undeniable artistic chemistry between these two hip hop legends as they both detail their respective parallel journeys through hip hop’s evolution and history.
Stories of tragedy, struggle, and loss are painted with incredibly descriptive lyrics and emotion, while giving the fans redemption, triumph and ultimate victory by two legends that have cemented their place in hip hop history. Today, the duo released their new collaborative sequel to the masses.
Purchase Bone Thugs-N-Harmony & Outlawz’s Thug Brothers 2 at iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/thug-brothers-2/id1235180375
Thug Brothers 2 is also available at select Best Buy, FYE and other physical retailers.
Tracklisting for Bone Thugs-N-Harmony & Outlawz “Thug Brothers 2”
Dove: Just in time for our first week of Summer, Xzayvier mixes his sunny lyrical vibes with club-friendly bass from producer CLVSSIC. on "Saturday". This song will appear on the Alabama native's upcoming High and Mighty album, slated for release on 6/22, and currently available for pre-order on iTunes.
Matt: “I’ve loved this track ever since the rough draft” DJ Premier chimed in. “When I was mixing the song down, Eiht kept saying :Got That” after the verses and I was going to put some scratches on it. I’m sitting at the board, saying the three lines to myself because I felt like it would fit in the blanks. I decided to go in the booth to record it and see if it would blend with the song. I’m not a fan of my own voice so I sent it back to Eiht for approval and his replay was literally GEAH.”