A rap icon died and no one flinched, it didn’t even make the entertainment headlines. This reminded me of our own music industry and how we neglect Nigerian artistes.
Young people in hip hop probably do not know who prodigy is, so key me spill a little about him and his legacy either; you can get more information from Wikipedia. Before that I’ll tell you this, he was part of one of the greatest rap duos in the history of world hip hop music.
The group called Mobb deep comprised of Havoc, and the sickle celled Prodigy. Together with Nas and Biggie smalls, they forged the golden age of the new York rap scene.
Although the group broke out in the gangsta rap genre, the hard New York identity promoted by them is the very substance that 50 cent, Jay Z and the rest would later come to reap from. Its impossible to talk about Prodigy without talking about his partner Havoc.
East coast vs west coast
In the mid 90’s, Havoc and Prodigy got entangled in the infamous west coast vs east coast rap beef. This feud would last till the turn of the millennium. It would also claim the lives of two of the greatest rappers of all time.
Prodigy’s Mobb Deep was accused of stealing Gfunk and gangsta rap from the west side. Some would argue that gangsta rap belongs to the west coast; death row and NWA to be precise. But art belongs to no one, and to everyone.
Before them, the New York hip hop music feel was more classy and intellectual as opposed to the raw and bloodthirsty LA hip hop style. But the Mobb were out to change that real soon.
Hits like “hell on earth” and “shook ones” gave concrete evidence of their credentials. It meant they were the ultimate gangsta rap group in the East. This toughness is what MOP imbibed but with a more direct approach.
Little wonder the Mobb became targets, first from Snoop Dogg on the east coast diss track “New York New York” featuring Dogg Pound rapper Kurrupt. But they were not toothless, they would fire back almost instantly with the west coast diss track “LA LA”
But then later they got a hammering from Tupac shakur on “Hit em up”; a song that is considered to be the greatest diss track ever recorded by a mainstream artiste.
On hit em up, Tupac Shakur wasn’t shy to make reference to Prodigy’s sickle cell disease. A condition that would lead to prodigy’s death about 20 years later in 2017.
Mobb Deep’s fall from relevance
In my opinion, the group lost its relevance when they broke up. Havoc and Prodigy parting ways was obviously the biggest mistake ever made. Although they reunited, it would be too late.
Cash strapped and stripped of influence, they went on to sign under 50 cents G unit.
The union did not last, just like all other G unit partnerships, it ended in disagreement. And even though they produced a couple of projects, their best days were truly behind them.
But this is about prodigy alone, and that’s my problem precisely. His story is the story of a group. He has no concrete achievements of his own.
When you’re starting out, remember that the neglect Nigerian artistes is real and you need to carve your niche real quick.
Prodigy’s death and how we neglect Nigerian artistes
Truth is, no one cared save a few rap legends like Lil Wayne, Big Boi and Ghost face Killah who had a personal relationship with the artiste. Mainstream media does not give a rats @ss about a fallen hero if its not adding money to their coffers.
This is the fate that awaits every artiste, its even worse for out-of-favor celebrities in Nigeria. Nomoreloss and Muna Obiekwe died broke of diseases that could have been treated with the right amount of cash.
But who is going to spend on you when you’re no longer hot and making hits. Your fan base could do that if you can maintain the relationship and keep them interested. But do not forget the norm, this is a society that neglect Nigerian artistes.
No one expects you to stay on your prime forever, even Pele had to retire from winning world cups. What you need to do is to remain relevant, you can’t stop being an opinion leader in your zone no matter how small.
Like Pele who will now always be the first to criticize poor football, Let your body of work make you a reference standard. That’s why you need to create quality right now. Create something you can be proud of after a hundred years.
Don’t die irrelevant like Prodigy.