The Autobiography of Mobb Deep by Prodigy
This is my favorite hip-hop book, straight up. Rest in Power to Prodigy. One-half of Mobb Deep and one of the greatest rappers of all-time. Here in hip-hop, we affectionately call him "P" and P was your source for murder raps. Those more in tune with hip-hop culture remember him as someone who, underneath all that tough-guy persona and serious face- he was someone who was honest with his emotions, he possessed a lot of wisdom, he was always very aware of The Powers That be, he was surprisingly a loving individual who every now and then brought that side of him through his undying loyalty for his friends, occasional love songs, things he said in interviews. In other words, Prodigy was a real person. Prodigy was a real man and in the lamest terms possible: Prodigy was a real nigga. This essay and book review, we explore the autobiography of Mobb Deep written by Prodigy and on the essay side of things, we will explore my life growing up on the music of Mobb Deep and all the memories Mobb Deep brought me, most specifically Prodigy.
I can't remember the first time I've heard Mobb Deep. I came to America in '96, I was 9 years old- a few months after 'Pac had died (more on Pac later) but I wasn't fully interested in hip-hop until 2000. I either had heard of Mobb Deep through their most famous song "Shook Ones" or maybe through their affiliations with Nas, who I was listening to 99.9% of the time. I'm not sure which. What drew me to Mobb Deep was the beats, 20% Havoc's voice and 80% Prodigy's voice. He had a very unique voice that sounded like an instrument in itself. His voice was perfect for the beats he was rapping on. This was before even paying attention to the words. When I was young in America, I had a severe problem paying attention. I'm not sure if I had a disorder but I definitely could not pay attention to anything specific for more than a minute, so I never paid attention to the words: However, I was hypnotized by the beats and voices in hip-hop. Also, my English back then was not 100% fluent so I was drawn to the sound more than anything. P had that voice, so did Nas, so did DMX, not Jay to me but his beats were captivating but I was most drawn to southern hip-hop- with their own unique accents that I never heard growing up in Boston after leaving Brazil. It was the sounds: Havoc is not acknowledged enough as one of hip-hop's greatest producers but he certainly is. It wasn't until I moved to Florida in 2003 that I started really paying attention to the words.
Later, at some point in my life that I don't recall, definitely in the 2000's, hip-hop was not the same anymore. I was living in Florida already and the things that drew me to hip-hop (The beats, the sounds) were what was making hip-hop unappealing to me at this point: Not enough content. I gravitated towards the hip-hop artists that had the most to say. I was a hardcore, conservative hip-hop listener, what people would call a backpacker. I listened to a lot of Nas, a lot of Wu-Tang, a lot of Biggie, a lot of Tupac and a lot of Mobb Deep. Those were my top 5 in my rotation. I listened to them so much that I became pretty good at writing lyrics myself. As we focus in closer and disect moments in my life, I remember listening exclusively to Mobb Deep and nothing else. Mobb Deep was the only music I was listening to and Prodigy sounded like "heaven and hell". I would drive around with the music really loud and the base high. Their second album "Infamous" is one of my favorite albums, all of the songs on that album were perfect. The name of the autobiography is named after their most classic album. The book details Prodigy's early life and his introduction to the art form. We catch a glimpse of his mysterious family and we learn that Prodigy comes from a background of musicians. We learn more about P's friendship with Havoc and his love for Queensbridge. Prodigy is not originally from Queens, like I'm not originally from Florida or Boston. P's exposure to hip-hop was the same as the rest of us, the fascination towards those who have done it before and captured our ears with the sounds of their voices- like P's voice captured my ears.
I remember going back to Brazil in 2007, I spent the first week or two at my aunt's condo located in front of the beach. During this time, I was involved in some family drama I had nothing to do with but my aunt kicked me out of her condo regardless. I left the condo and spent time with my cousins in the poor areas I was originally growing up in, much younger and enjoyed it. It was in the this setting, that listening to Mobb Deep was most perfect. The song "The Start of Your Ending" was the perfect background music and remains as one of my favorite songs. Every time I listen to "The Start of Your Ending" I immediately picture the favelas of Brazil, the houses on top of each other, the heavy atmosphere, black people everywhere when I listen to "The Start of Your Ending", even though, the song is based out of Queensbridge or representing Queensbridge. "The Start of Your Ending" is just one out of many Mobb Deep songs that I have a story for. I just wanted to share one.
Another thing we admire Mobb Deep for, is the numerous beef that they've had in hip-hop. Mobb Deep has beefed with people's favorite rappers and still managed to survive. Mobb Deep had beef with Tupac, they had beef with Nas, Jay-z and numerous other rappers in the game. This is the highlight of the autobiography and the reason many people want to read it in the first time. This book details Prodigy's take on his beef with many rappers. Prodigy talks about his encounter with Jay-z in the club after their much publicized beef. Prodigy talks about moments where rappers like Nore and Nas didn't have much of a good day and even takes shots at Ja Rule. Prodigy speaks very highly of 50 Cent and rappers like Young Jeezy- people that aside from 50, we don't really associate with Mobb Deep. Here is a separate article, listing excerpts from the autobiography.
Prodigy doesn't only discuss his rap beefs but all aspects of his life, even from his diet. Prodigy reveals emotional aspects of his life most men would keep private. Everything from his friendships, his parents, his wife and his painful experiences suffering from sickle cell anemia- which ended up claiming his life last week. Everything in this autobiography is a worthy read. I will share something I enjoyed as well in his autobiography. One of my favorite lines in hip-hop is Prodigy's "Illuminati want my mind, soul and body/ Secret Society, trying to keep their eye on me." This line came out at a time when most of the world's population had never heard of Illuminati, in 1995. In the 2000's, Illuminati conspiracy theories had become extremely popular on the web and Prodigy was one of the most outspoken people on the subject, unsurprisingly. We in fact, will review many books on the subject but in Prodigy's book, he discusses how he first became aware of "The Powers That Be" and how he got access to this knowledge.
The book is an extremely enjoyable read and if you can get the audiobook, it's even better because it's narrated by Prodigy himself, with his iconic New York accent, his "Dunn" language and tough guy voice. Prodigy, to this day, is the number 1 source of tough guy raps. Nobody could paint a darker picture in his raps and similar to Tupac, few people were able to marry poetry and street life in such a beautiful manner. Strangely, both rappers, who at one point beefed with one another, both died in Las Vegas. To those who love and cherish hip-hop will remember Prodigy as one of the game's greatest emcees, one of its most outspoken personalities and one of its most durable characters. This book alone, might be one of hip-hop's greatest literature and its best autobiography. It was very well-written and helps to solidify Prodigy's legacy. I recommend that anyone who is interested in hip-hop add this book to their collection.