Prodigy of Mobb Deep dead at 42

Albert Johnson (November 2nd 1974 – June 20th 2017)

Prodigy, one half of the Queensbridge rap duo Mobb Deep, passed away this morning aged 42.

The groups publicist gave confirmation to the press in the following statement:
“It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep.” “Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”

Prodigy died in Las Vegas, Nevada after being hospitalized there a few days before. He’d been performing with Mobb Deep partner Havoc on the “Art of Rap Tour” in Las Vegas & became unwell, apparently due to complications with sickle-cell anemia. The cause of death has not been confirmed as of yet.

Best known for his work with co-partner Havoc as Mobb Deep, Prodigy also had a solo career & ventured into movie acting.

Mobb Deep album discography:
1993: Juvenile Hell
1995: The Infamous
1996: Hell On Earth
1999: Murda Muzik
2001: Infamy
2004: Amerikaz Nightmare
2006: Blood Money
2011: Black Cocaine (EP)
2014: The Infamous Mobb Deep

Solo album discography:
2000: H.N.I.C.
2008: H.N.I.C. Pt. 2
2012: H.N.I.C. 3
2012: The Bumpy Johnson Album
2017: The Hegelian Dialectic

Prodigy’s final album project was “Hegelian Dialectic (The Book Of Revelation)”, released on January 20th 2017.

Educated Rapper (of U.T.F.O.) has passed away aged 54

Jeffrey Campbell aka Educated Rapper

Educated Rapper, one quarter of the legendary Hip Hop group U.T.F.O., passed away on June 3rd. According to reports he had been fighting against cancer & had been hospitalized. It’s stated he was 54 years of age.

The group’s most famous track was “Roxanne, Roxanne”. Released in 1984 it was the beginning of Hip Hop’s famous Roxanne rap battles.

U.T.F.O. who hailed from Brooklyn & group members included Doctor Ice, Kangol Kid & Mix Master Ice, along with Educated Rapper (also known as MD or EMD), recorded & performed together between 1984 & 1992. Living up to his name he graduated from New Rochelle college in New York in 2009.

As expected the Hip Hop community have taken to social media to give their condolences. Hip Hop media have published tributes on their websites also.

Below is footage of Educated Rapper in 2011.

Birthday profile: “Common” A history in brief

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Born Lonnie Rashid Lynn in South Side Chicago, Illiois on March 13 1972, Common (formerly Common Sense) has almost done it all in the entertainment industry. Most notable for being a rapper, he’s gone on to make the transition to acting, both on network television & film in Hollywood. As well as this Common has set up his own record label & clothing line. He is also involed in various types of activism for social issues.
(Rashad Unique)

Let’s take a look back at his album discography:
Can I Borrow A Dollar? (Relativity Records. 1992)
Resurrection (Relativity Records. 1994)
One Day It’ll All Make Sense (Relativity Records. 1997)
Like Water For Chocolate (MCA/Universal Records. 2000)
Electric Circus (MCA. 2002)
Be (GOOD/Geffen. 2005)
Finding Forever (GOOD/Geffen. 2007)
Universal Mind Control (GOOD/Geffen. 2008)
The Dreamer/The Believer (Warner Bros., Think Common Music Inc. 2011)
Nobody’s Smiling (ARTium/Def Jam Recordings. 2014)

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Preview, buy & download music by Common @ iTunes here

Birthday profile: “Nas” A history in brief

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Born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York, on September 14th  1973, he has evolved from Kid Wave to Nasty Nas to simply Nas. 20 years plus in the hip hop game have cemented Nas into it’s history beginning with his debut album, the classic “Illmatic” In 1994. Even before this his verse on Main Source’s “Live At The Barbecue” made people sit up & take notice as he outshone the other vocalists on the track.

Nas moved with his family to Queensbridge, Queens at a young age & began to master his rapping skills. Later on he met producer & Main Source rapper Large Professor who allowed him studio use & eventually a guest spot on “Live At The Barbecue”, a track from Main Source’s debut album “Breaking Atoms”. The big break came when MC Serch, formerly of 3rd Bass took Nas under his wing & with a demo got him a deal with Columbia Records.

The debut album “Illmatic” released in 1994 was a street classic. With big guns on the production such as DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip & Large Professor guaranteeing tuff beats, Nas’ breathless flow of ghetto life tales was approved by fans & other rappers in general. Columbia Records were keen to see Nas move in a much more commercial direction & the tracks on the second album “It Was Written” (1996) reflected that. This bought about mixed review, but showed Nas’ versatility with differing types of production. This was followed with a collaboration group album “The Firm” with AZ, Foxy Brown & Nature which had a gangster movie type theme to it.

Now for a move into film with “Belly”, co-starring DMX, T-Boz (of TLC) Method Man & Taral Hicks. In a storyline spreading across the United States & Jamaica, Nas & DMX, after many ups & downs eventually seek their own paths out of the drug dealing game.

Back to the music now & Nas collaborating with the big hip hop mogul Puff Daddy was seen as a sign of him moving to a much more commercial edge of music. What was to follow in the next few years would be seen as much more controversial than this, a lengthy feud with Jay-Z. The pair went back & forth dissing one another without mentioning names until Jay-Z dropped “Takeover”. Nas’ response “Ether” is still seen as a victory in the beef over Jay-Z. The pair eventually squashed their beef & Jay-Z even signed Nas to Def Jam in 2006.

A more politically edged Nas was to follow. The album “Street’s Disciple” (2004) was a double album blending varying issues. His 2006 “Hip Hop Is Dead” album focused on the demise of the artform as he saw it at the time. Then “Untitled” in 2008 caused major controversy with Nas’ original chosen title “Nigger” being changed by intervention from record label Def Jam. The album was Nas’ most political to date with subject content of race, politics, the media & of course usage of the “N” word.

On a personal note Nas’ marriage to R&B singer Kelis came to an end. The couple married in 2005 & Kelis filed for divorce in 2009, while pregnant with their child. Their son Knight was born in July 2009 & their divorce was finalized in 2010.

Nas, a big fan of collaboration albums, took a new musical route for himself by doing an album with one of Bob Marley’s sons Damian entitled “Distant Relatives” (2010). Nas’s final album for Def Jam “Life Is Good” from last year (2012) came after numerous highly profiled differences with the record label. The album saw a drift from the politically edged music & more of a focus on enjoyment, especially after a messy divorce. Relaxed & introspective describe the lyrical flow on “Life Is Good”.

Nas continually being hailed as one of the best rappers of all time is well deserved. Most of the time being able to effortlessly cram more that 10 words into one bar of rap comes naturally to him, a feat most try, but only a few are capable of. His storytelling ability & rap flow are impeccable & the subject matters he covers a wide & varied. After originally basing his rap style on Kool G Rap, Nas took that & crafted his own unique style. The best way to describe Nas is “Hip Hop Legend”.
(Rashad Unique)

Nas’ solo album discograpy:
Illmatic (Columbia Records. 1994)
It Was Written (Columbia Records. 1996)
I Am… (Columbia Records. 1999)
Nastradamus (Columbia Records/Ill Will. 1999)
Stillmatic (Columbia Records/Ill Will. 2001)
God’s Son (Columbia Records/Ill Will. 2002)
Street’s Disciple (Columbia Records/Ill Will. 2004)
Hip Hop Is Dead (Def Jam/Columbia/The Jones Experience. 2006)
Untitled (Def Jam/Columbia/The Jones Experience. 2008)
Life Is Good (Def Jam. 2012)

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Preview, buy & download music by Nas @ iTunes here

Unsung: EPMD

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Unsung:
EPMD
TV One
Show Aired: February 6th 2013 (10pm USA EST)

Watch full episode here
(Put cursor on screen & click full screen icon to enlarge)

The latest episode of TV One’s “Unsung” series features pioneering Hip Hop funksters Erick Sermon & Parrish Smith, EPMD.

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Pioneering rap duo EPMD blazed a trail in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s with a chart-topping brand of funky beats and their trademark monotone rapping style. While many of their counterparts were pillaging James Brown’s catalog, Eric Sermon and Parrish Smith relied on fresh samples from groups like Zapp and Parliament, along with rock vibes from icons like Eric Clapton and ZZ Top.

They became one of the most consistent and bestselling artists of their era with four straight gold albums, while discovering and nurturing fresh talent along the way. Unfortunately their careers were rife with beefs over money, culminating with a robbery at Parish’s house that police tied to Eric. For this episode of Unsung, they are joined by friends and fellow stars Redman, DMC, Keith Murray, Wendy Williams and more, as EPMD’s dueling emcees come clean about their business to tell the tale of an extraordinary career that hasn’t yet let up.
(TV One)

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Birthday profile: “Rakim” A history in brief

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Born William Michael Griffin on January 28th 1968 in Wyandanch, Long Island, New York, Rakim is still classed as being the greatest rapper of all time by most. He has rightly earned legendary status in the world of Hip Hop, being an influence to many other rappers during his 25 plus year career so far & his voice & rap phrases have been sampled thousands of times.

He began perfecting his rap style while at Wyandanch High School under the name “Kid Wizard”. He changed his name to Rakim Allah after becoming a part of the Nation Of Gods & Earths in the mid ’80’s & decided on Rakim as his MC name. Rakim formed a rap duo with DJ Eric B. & the Marley Marl produced debut single Eric B. Is President/My Melody changed the game. Rakim’s unique voice & vocal flow was a change to the basic standard that was typical in Hip Hop at the time, once heard, his flow was copied by many others. Complex, introspective & smooth with a distinct New York twang, Rakim’s voice is distinctive & instantly recognisable.

As a duo Eric B. & Rakim released 4 popular albums. 1987’s “Paid In Full”, the single releases got them worldwide commercial success, 1988’s “Follow The Leader”, 1990’s “Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em” (when they signed a reported $1 million dollar deal with MCA Records) & 1992’s “Don’t Sweat the Technique”. Each album came with a totally different production style and Rakim even changed his rap style on the “Don’t Sweat The Technique” to show his versatility, lyrically the format remained uplifting, positive and at times fierce & competitive. In the early ’90’s after the release of “Don’t Sweat The Technique” the duo couldn’t agree with each other on a contract issue with MCA Records & they split.

After a music releasing hiatus which involved him recording demo tracks with other producers, Rakim’s debut solo album “The 18th Letter/The Book Of Life” was released in 1997, followed in 1999 by “The Master”. Both albums had mix of rugged & smooth tracks & even in an increasingly transforming Hip Hop scene musically, Rakim stayed true to his regular format.

Another lengthy hiatus followed in which time Rakim had signed to & left Dr. Dre’s Aftermath record label. Creative differences were cited as the reason for this & the album that they had worked on was never completed. It wasn’t until 2008 that Rakim released another album “The Archive: Live, Lost & Found”. This was a compilation predominantly of older tracks performed live along with 4 previously unreleased tracks.

Then after a 10 year wait, Rakim finally released another studio album “The Seventh Seal” on his own label Ra Records. The Lead single “Holy Are You” had built up much anticipation, but when released, the album was met with mediocre reviews.

Still touring on a regular basis & promising another album, Rakim still remains as respected as ever & this was rewarded with a BET “I Am Hip Hop Icon” award in 2012. The God MC’s legacy it seems will “Flow Forever”.
(Rashad Unique)

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Let’s remind ourselves of Rakim’s solo albums:

1997: The 18th Letter/The Book Of Life (Universal Records)
1999: The Master (Universal Records)
2009: The Seventh Seal (Ra Records/TVM/SMC Records)

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Sha Be Allah: A journalistic profile in brief

Sha Be Allah

Art comes in may forms, not just as a performer, but as a writer as well. Shabe Allah’s love of real Hip Hop has blessed many publications, but he is mainly known for his journalism in the Hip Hop bible “The Source” magazine.

Sha Be Allah is a published author, autodidact, vegetarian, and teacher of civilization, who picked up his writing habit while on a “state funded vacation”. Sha’s work had appeared in almost every issue of The Source since 2009, but he first set it off online on sites like talkofnewyork.com, hhnlive.com, and T.I.’s streetcred.com. The Brooklyn native moonlights as a publicist, mentors at-risk youth, and lends his literary talents to the Nation of Gods and Earths’ Five Percenter newspaper and the recently launched Hip Hop/vixen magazine and website Rhymes and Dimes.