One of the most legendary artists to ever touch a microphone, Prodigy was an absolute BEAST of an MC who held down the art form correctly. Mobb Deep was the embodiment of New York and the fabric of the very essence of Hip Hop in every way, where even though there had been many artists in the mecca beforehand, the likes of Nas and Mobb Deep represent the very height of East Coast Rap point blank period. The origins of Hip Hop date back to the 70’s but it’s golden era is most definitely the 90’s, when one of the greatest spitters of all time represented QueensBridge by way of Long Island, the legendary Albert Johnson aka the self proclaimed H.*.I.C.
At some point I need to write the appropriate Mobb Deep tribute but real quick let’s run through it, Juvenile Hell showed the potential but The Infamous is the definition of the perfect Rap album from start to finish. Not one skip and all classics, The Infamous should truthfully be as celebrated as Illmatic. Then they had a 3 album run of more classic material in Hell On Earth, Murda Muzik, & Infamy, in between Prodigy’s solo cuts that by no surprise were good for that same classic feel.
Then after the G Unit collaboration it seemed like the mainstream stopped checking for Mobb, yet to his credit Prodigy seemed to evolve as a man during this time out of the spotlight, becoming a noted activist with knowledge of self and the world around him. Unfortunately this past month his journey however came to an end, at 42 years young passing away only hours after performing in Las Vegas. Prodigy had long battled Sickle Cell disease and he always put that pain in his music, yet it’s even more of a shame that it took his life while he was reportedly in the best shape and health in many years.
Even still he went out doing what he loved and his music will live forever, and now we have his catalogue to go back to filled with insurmountable hidden gems. One of those best kept secrets was already his last and final album titled Hegelian Dialect, which I wrote about on the site when it dropped and it definitely has some jewels on it.
Without further ado Prodigy’s Hegelian Dialect (The Book of Revelation) is critiqued track by track below, the last and final album from an iconic MC who helped define the genre.
“(I want help, I do, I want help), this is about psychological warfare, a specific type of warfare, designed to distract, misinform, and anesthetize the brain, we must remain vigilant at all times, and be alert to their insidious attack on the mind, for they have come before, and they will come again” A very cinematic intro that sets the tone for what’s to come.
“You are now listening to the sounds of a god in the flesh, my lineage is, ancient, I come from beyond any place you could imagine, in your imagination” … clearly not his best work but the general feel of the track produced by Alchemist is as mystic as advertised, whereas the union between Mobb & Alchemist continues to put out classic music to this day. Meanwhile for some reason when P says Mystic in the hook it reminds me of the overlooked Nas record Where Are They Now when he spits about raps fallen soldiers by saying “rap is like a ghost town, real mystic, as if these folks never existed…” further illustrating how rare it was for Prodigy & Havoc to make the impact they did, let alone for 20 years strong
“He said he like the rappers when they broke, cause when they get that money, they lose touch with the folks, back up in the hood that made him famous from the getty-up, forgot about the ghettio, that's why you keep gettin' stuck, that's what the first joint is always sold out, and, now they can't give away albums, he only 14 but little shorty know his shit, he do his homework, I value your point of view kid” Prodigy came back STRONG on this record as this definitely gives you that classic Infamous feel… produced by Beat Butcha this one is the standout record on the project, and we should all be thankful that he let us gave us this before he left us
“My confidence like armor, I know with all my being that I could do anything, I just work hard and I achieve it, now watch me create money for the next 300 years, so my great grand kids'll eat food off of these words I'm saying here” Subpar production by EI RTNC this one is particularly significant off the strength of it’s subject matter, as Prodigy in both verses reflects on life and death (in addition to it’s main theme regarding the evils of politics and government.), where at one point he says “cause I'ma need that boat or one of them aircrafts, God gave me a life and I'ma live this shit” and based on his legacy it definitely seems like he did just that.
“We live in living color, backstage at the Truman Show, everything not three dimensions, there's so much more to be seen, open up your third eye or you gon' miss everything” Great production by Budgie Beats this is another strong album cut where P kicks his knowledge per usual
Mic - Rocosm
“Now think about how really small we are, we like blood cells movin through the veins of a heart, inside Mother Earth body, and damn she thick, you ever think about that on weed? It's a trip” Based on the production this was moreso an experiment have track that doesn’t really work, despite Prodigy’s penmanship as well as the samples of 2pac that actually makes this another legitimate album cut. Although it’s a shame they were never cool in real life, in some respects for 2pac to have even acknowledged Mobb Deep was a sign of respect in it’s own right, and now hopefully their collaborating on the other side.
“I had to learn to keep my opinions under my hat, these rappers are trash, but ain't nothin' we can do about that, just let their garbage ass live, God loves them too, ain't that what they say? the Lord protect babies and fools” Produced by Jordan Reid & Budgie Beats this is more unique production but it compliments Prodigy’s style well.
“To survive... ...can be broken down into two basic functions for any organism to survive. You have to be able to grow, maintain yourself, take care of your biology. But you also must be able to protect yourself, so that if you're just growing and you can't protect yourself, you'll become food for something else” An interlude with nothing but facts
“We don't believe your books, we got our own connection, with the universal life force, they pass laws, but the law of the land is not maritime law, I'm talkin' etymology, see what I'm tryna say, we not really free, we just are new slaves, yeah, we still slaves, we still slaves, they took the chain off our wrists and put it on our brains” another one produced by Beat Butcha and the second verse on this is one of the best moments on the tape.
The Good Fight
“Grandmama taught me how to run my own business, Granddad taught me how to write my own lyrics, my pops taught me violence, my moms taught me peace and love, that made a great balance, my positive and negative charge” Produced by Knxwledge of Anderson Paak & NxWorries fame this is another one that’s nothin but jewels 💎💎💎
“When carrying out attacks on other nations, destroying their infrastructure and deforming their future generations, the imperialist needs to rewrite history and keep repeating it over and over until it becomes true” Another interlude and the content is heavy, where at one point P uses an excerpt from a recording of Harry Truman, in which a student asks the President why he dropped the atom bomb on all those innocent civilians.
“Listen, I've got a diamond heart, 24 karat blood, my body is my temple, bitch, I am the plug, whole universe is my outlet, I and I, we are one” More 💎💎💎
“Real men drink water, we stay with our women and raise our daughters, and our little men too, and teach them the things they won't teach em in school, like ancient Black history and how to survive in these modern times, it's no games being played, no kiddin’ no bullshittin' and no religion” Personally one of my favorite Prodigy verses ever is the one he spit on Pearly Gates (which all by itself makes the G Unit album not as underwhelming as we remember), and this one in it’s content and title shares the same sentiments. As far as Pearly Gates the explicit version should have always been on the album, as that was a weak move from 50 to pull it for the sake of bad press or controversy. Instead Pearly Gates is one of Prodigy’s best moments and we should celebrate it as such and play it as he intended.
Hunger Pangs ft Ca$h Biz
“I give thanks to the creator 'cause my life is blessed, and wish all the haters nothing but the best, this is Infamous til the name wear out, clock run out, sun burn out and all hell freezes over, when Babylon fall I'll be by the shoulder, of the Most High, laughing my balls off like good riddance, until then I'll be in the soup kitchen, cookin up shit like this for poverty stricken, under privileged, brothers and sisters” The outro is almost eerie considering his perspective on the record followed by his ultimate fate, where there’s actually peace in knowing that Prodigy was in a good place in his last few months on Earth, and again the rest of us are extremely lucky that we get these final words on his way out.
In conclusion the above sentiment is how we should all feel about the album, for Prodigy to release this album in 2017 is the blessing amidst the tragedy, and now more than ever before we should celebrate the music and it’s overall significance. On a side note Prodigy was also heavily referenced in the Broadway show Hamilton albeit unbeknownst to it’s core audience who had no idea of it, but it’s only right that Hip Hop acknowledges the true creator and the fact that Shook Ones was absolutely represented on Broadway and to record breaking results. Ultimately Prodigy was legitimately one of the nicest MCs of all time from any era, and thanks to the quality of his penmanship his legacy will live on forever in music.