In music your “Voice” is often vital to your notoriety, success and influence. Most great artist regardless of what genre of music they represent, are often recognized because of their “Sound”. When I think of Soul Music, I hear the voices of Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Aretha Franklin creep into my consciousness. I’m also confident that I’m not alone in this assessment. When I think about Country Music, I hear Johnny Cash voice and it’s distinction from other artist within his community. When I think about 80’s Rock and Pop, voices like Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and Hall & Oates come to mind. I’m not saying their voices are the greatest of all time. I’m simply saying there are certain voices that shape a genre, generation and remain relevant long after the artist is no longer alive. Hearing the news that Prodigy from the legendary Hip Hop Group Mobb Deep passed away forced me to immediately think about his “Voice”. In Hip Hop an MC’s voice can often be as important as his lyrics. Prodigy was a lyricist no doubt but his voice took you on a trip. Prodigy’s voice took you to New York in the 1990’s.
There's a war goin' on outside no man is safe from
You could run, but you can't hide forever
From these streets that we done took
You walkin' with your head down
Scared to look, you shook
‘Cause ain't no such things as halfway crooks - Prodigy, Survival Of The Fittest
Prodigy has always been known for his vivid bars but you know that voice from all other MC’s. Prodigy talked the way he rapped as well. His voice was always dope and so hip hop, if that makes sense to you. True hip hop heads know what I mean with that statement. Some artist simply sound great on a microphone. They take you too foreign lands with their voices. Their voices are also a piece of their imagination, dreams, and vision in my humble option. Their voices are their weapons as well. Their voices attack you with various emotions. SADE will take her listeners on a romantic voyage with her poetic sound. Anita Baker can give you the feeling of an anniversary while Patti Labelle might take you to church. Prodigy on the other hand, will take you to a “block” anywhere in New York. Prodigy will take you from Long Island to Queens with an effortless flow. A few weeks ago I was listening to the audio version of his book My Infamous Life. I enjoyed hearing the stories even though I read the book several years ago. Prodigy has always had a way with words.
“I Put My Lifetime in Between the Papers Lines” – Prodigy, Quiet Storm
When I think about distinctive New York voices, Rakim, Large Professor, and Prodigy always come to mind. Now, let’s take a quick step back and talk about Prodigy the MC. After their debut album Juvenile Hell was released, Mobb Deep flew under the radar until they dropped the classic follow-up, The Infamous in 1995. This is when Prodigy went on an absolute lyrically onslaught from 1995 – 2000. It would take me all day to list the amount of amazing opening lines, verses and songs in general where Prodigy placed himself among the elite. Prodigy was the standout artist in Mobb Deep and this is saying a lot because Havoc was very nice. To me if you wanted to know how New York’s 90’s Hip Hop scene was, look no further than Biggie, NAS, A Tribe Called Quest and Mobb Deep. When The Infamous dropped, Prodigy became one of my favorite MC’s. By the time Hell On Earth was released just a year later, I placed Prodigy on the same level as any major player in NYC.
“Yo... the saga begins ....beget war...
I draw first blood be the first to set it off” – Prodigy, Hell On Earth
Prodigy was also a “Battle MC” as well. His voice always showed pure confidence. I mean, did you hear “Drop A Gem On Em”, aimed at Tupac? After several disrespectful lines pointed at Mobb Deep by Tupac, Prodigy decided to retaliate. If you don't believe how potent Prodigy was during this era, go pop The Infamous, Hell on Earth, Murda Muzik and the H.N.I.C. in your CD changer and ride out for a little while. Prodigy was like Biggie to a degree. What I mean is Prodigy and Biggie always rhymed like they were ready for battle. They kept MC's on notice in an artistic yet gangster style. They each possessed a skill that would allow them to destroy other MC’s without actually saying their names. Like Biggie, Prodigy voices shot through the microphone like a rifle. Even rivals such as Jay-Z who attacked Prodigy on The Takeover had profound respect for the QP legend.
“Yeah, I listen to Mobb Deep, their fantastic. At one point, Prodigy was one of the best MC’s in the game. For a period of time he was close to being the best rapper. I don't know about of all time but for a period, he was close to being the best. I’m a fan.” – Jay-Z
Prodigy is Rap Music. Prodigy is New York. Prodigy is one of the greatest MC’s of all time. No other MC opening lines to a song ever had the impact displayed by Prodigy. Prodigy started a track the way an MC should start a track. It takes a talent to bring the listeners into the DNA of a song within seconds. You know it’s P. You know what to expect from P. Prodigy has one of the dopest voices ever to bless a microphone. Prodigy’s influence will live on and he is cemented in the legacy of this genre. Prodigy is forever linked to the culture that we call Hip Hop.
Oh... In January of this year (2017), Prodigy was still making dope music with dope opening lines. Peep the track below: Prodigy of Mobb Deep - The One and Only (Official Video)