Albert Johnson aka Prodigy from Mobb Deep passed away on June 20, 2017. Mobb Deep is considered to be one of the most iconic rap duos, a few of their top hits included "Shook Ones" and "Quiet Storms". Their songs consisted of raw beats with a Queenbridge swag that hit you right in the face whenever you heard their lyrics.
The news of his death hit me. Not because he was a rapper, but because he had Sickle Cell Anemia. I had just finished speaking about the complications of SCD on I Said Chyyy podcast. When I heard news reports coming in that 42- year- old Prodigy was in the hospital due to complications of sickle cell. It really touched home and made me reflect on the time that I met him.
While in graduate school at Northeastern University, I met Prodigy on campus. It was so random! I was leaving an event early with my friends and I looked twice, like "Wait, is that Prodigy?" In my mind, I wanted to rap one of his lyrics to him like "To all the killers/with the hundred dollar billers/ who aint got no feelings". Thankfully, my mouth was not saying what I was thinking. So I walked up to him and the only thing I could say was "Hi Prodigy, my name is Charlotte, do you mind if we take a picture?" He obliged, I expressed my gratitude and I walked away smiling like a little kid.
Recently, I came across a show called Therapist on Viceland (one of my new favorite channels) and this particular episode featured Prodigy. The beginning starts out with the therapist telling Prodigy that he has had a lot of pain in his life and maybe it's one of his life lessons. Prodigy responds and says he looks at pain as his friend, as someone that will always be there. Prodigy continued to discuss that he has Sickle Cell Anemia and describes the difficulties of battling the disease.
Prodigy's statement made me think of my own experiences with physical pain and how it triggers emotions of helplessness and weakness. For sickle cell patients, you can be fine one minute and the next, a sharp pain will happen in your joints that can cause you not to be able to move. It's the drastic change of being in control of your body to not being able to move or walk. It takes a mental toll on you, making you fell that you are handicapped to the disease and that whatever goals you set, might not happen because the disease will always control your body and future plans. But the good news is that sickle cell patients are warriors, thriving and determined to overcome the obstacles the disease puts in their way. Prodigy is a great example of how he used the gifts that God gave him to have a stellar career and achieve his goals.
If you have watched the episode of Therapist with Prodigy, then you will realize it touches on the intersectionality of race, gender, health, and religion. If you haven't watched it, I recommend you do because it will enhance your understanding of the disease and the life of Prodigy.