On March 7, 2011- Albert “Prodigy” Johnson is released from Mid State Correctional Facility after serving time for a gun possession charge. The Queens, New York native and one half of the rap duo Mobb Deep, is a legend in the music business. A few years ago, I was standing online at the Penn Plaza Deli, now Cafe Bravo, to pay for my lunch when out the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a face I knew I had seen before. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was none other than Prodigy himself. We exchanged greetings and chatted briefly before parting ways. When I saw this autobiography on Amazon, I picked up and learn about the life of the person I crossed paths with that day at the deli.
Born into a show business family, his exposure to stardom begins a child and the show has never stopped. Queens is the borough he called home and a lot of his later escapades take place at the notorious Queensbridge Houses. Barely fifteen and not even old enough to drive unsupervised or buy a pack of cigarettes, he sets his sights on a career in the music industry and becomes a rapper. His partnership with Kejuan “Havoc” Muchita resulting in the formation of Mobb Deep stands as one of the genre’s most celebrated groups. This autobiography reveals Johnson’s incredible life, one filled with music, fame, money, fatherhood, relationships and reflection. The hip hop genre is quite unique in that it is the only genre in which many of the stars have live the life that they often speak about. Reading as if it’s a New York Times true crime bestseller, the biography is filled with old memories of the gritty reality of the street life. Violent altercations, gun battles and deadly car accidents take center stage revealing a life filled with constant turmoil and stress. His battle with sickle-cell anemia serves as a backdrop and emerges throughout the book as a reminder about the mortality we all face. Today, he and Havoc are older and wiser and their craziest days are behind them. But their place in music history is unquestionable and their lives, as infamous as they may have been, are examples of the dark side of the streets of New York City and the high-speed nature of the music industry.