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Prodigy, Rapper Who Helped Forge the Sound of New York Hip-Hop, Dies at 42


Prodigy, the rapper from Queens who helped define the sound of New York hip-hop as one-half of Mobb Deep, has died at 42.

Chad Batka for The New York Times

Prodigy, the hard-nosed Queens rapper who kiln-fired New York hip-hop into a thing of unhurried attitude and stoic elegance as half of the duo Mobb Deep, was found dead on Tuesday in Las Vegas. He was 42.

According to his publicist, Roberta Magrini, Prodigy (born Albert Johnson) was hospitalized there following a recent Mobb Deep performance, suffering from complications of sickle-cell anemia, which he’d been battling since birth.

The official cause of death had not yet been determined, she said.

Prodigy brought a no-nonsense personality and a vivid eye for detail to his lyrics, which were brutal evocations of cruel street life in the Queensbridge housing projects, and sometimes achingly poetic: “I put my lifetime in between the paper’s lines,” he rapped on “Quiet Storm,” one of Mobb Deep’s most memorable songs.

On three essential albums — “The Infamous,” from 1995; “Hell on Earth,” from 1996; and “Murda Muzik,” from 1999 — Mobb Deep became standard bearers for the sound of New York rap: unfazed, unsentimental, uncompromising.

A full obituary will follow.

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