Prodigy was never an MC to mince his words. He packed a ton of syllables into every rhyme he wrote, and always expressed his controversial thoughts on politics, the Illuminati and a number of different conspiracy theories. He was a truth seeker, a spokesman for the voiceless — and a vessel for every kid in the ghetto.
Even when he faced his most trying situations, the loyal Mobb Deep mouthpiece was ready to take on any challenge put in his way. I can still remember speaking to P in 2008 right before he had to turn himself in for a prison bid stemming from a weapons arrest in 2006. Even back then, he was ahead of his time. The “Rap Internet” was still forming at the time, but Prodigy was already hip to going straight to YouTube for his music video premieres and developed his own social media network for his fans to stay in touch with him while he was away. In fact, he was the original rap blogger.
“After I caught my case, I really took the time out to concentrate on my second solo album, and I made a video for every single song on the album. I just want all my real fans to hold me down while I’m on this little trip,” quipped Prodigy during our 2008 interview for Philly’s Foundation Magazine.
We actually spoke twice only weeks before he had to begin his bid. With the long arm of the law clockin’ his every move, the outspoken poet still held no punches during our chat.
“The feds told me I could be a free man if I set up 50 Cent with drugs and guns,” he candidly told me without hesitation. As a fresh writer — and an intern at The Source — I did my best to give one of the most prolific MCs to emerge from New York justice.
Here it is in full for the first time ever online.
Mikey Fresh: Past Mobb Deep albums such as The Infamous and Hell On Earth are considered classic hip-hop albums. However, over the past several years many critics and fans have questioned the sound of your most recent albums such as Blood Money and Return of the Mac. In your opinion is HNIC 2 a classic album?
Prodigy: I can’t automatically say that HNIC 2 is going to be a classic, or it’s this or that. But I can say that it’s Prodigy and everything I’ve been known for. The music I chose to rap on was 100% me and all my personal feelings and the things I wanted to express to the world.
With your recent music videos, you have been going straight to the Internet when releasing them. What motivated you to stop relying on major networks like MTV and BET for air-play?
Me and Alchemist used to just sit there and talk in the studio like ‘rap really needs to get back to when it was mysterious and only the hood new about it. That’s really how this shit started. Then the rest of world wanted to know. That’s how I’ve been approaching my videos — straight on the Youtube — and just let the word of mouth build my buzz. We’re a group that’s blessed with a fan base that will check for Mobb Deep no matter what year it is
Your last solo release came out on Koch, but the last group album from Mobb Deep was released through G-unit. Why Voxonix Music for you next solo album?
For HNIC 2, I signed a deal with Voxonix Music. They have the technology where they can translate my voice into different languages, and it still rhymes. So this will be released in multiple languages. Really, I’m just concentrating on HNIC 2 and that’s it. This is my official second solo album. Don’t get Return of The Mac confused as a solo album. That was just a mixtape. It’s really been a long time coming for HNIC 2, and don’t get it fucked up. Mobb Deep still got an album dropping on G-Unit that will be dropping when I come home.
How do you plan to stay both mentally and physically healthy during your upcoming prison sentence of 3 and 1/2 years?
I’m going to be in there working some screenplays and more music… just trying to keep my mind sharp. You know just getting my mind and body cleansed. I’m like a machine, I don’t stop. Depending on if I get access to a computer or not — and fans can write me letters. I’ma try to keep in touch with my fans through my website.
Is there anything else you want to say to your fans and the rest of the hip-hop community?
I hope other hip-hop artists can learn from my situation. It’s not a game. When you really living the life that your rhyming about… what can I say my life is real. So the reality is you can get killed or go to jail. You gotta be careful and just learn from your mistakes. Of course, you got dumb-ass muthafuckas that think they just keeping it real or whatever. Then you got the people that really are living this life that we rap about.
As the day finally came for Prodigy to say peace to the hip-hop community and begin serving his three and a half year prison bid, the American judicial system finally did something positive for a rapper — and the HNIC was given 30 more days to be a free man.
Mikey Fresh: Prodigy, the last time we spoke I’d assumed it would be the last conversation we’d have in the last 3 years. What happened?
Prodigy: WelI, I went to court Jan 8th to start my sentence, and fortunately for me, my lawyer was able to get me a 30 days extension. I really just took it as a blessing. It’s just another month for me to make sure the awareness is there for my album and making sure the promotion and marketing are done right. I was able to touch up some of my videos, too. I’m really trying to hands on with everything I’m doing now.
Any chance that you will drop a mixtape given this extra time you have just received, maybe something like a teaser for HNIC 2?
Nah, there ain’t going to another mixtape. I already gave y’all the joint with Alchemist. You can expect Havoc and my team to be dropping new material here. Hav is still doing his thing, doing beats for damn near everybody out there. He got his solo project coming. Make sure y’all also check out the tour that Havoc, Noyd, and some of the Infamous crew will be doing the HNIC 2 tour in ‘08. Also, make sure to check out for Alchemist’s next album. I promise you it’s crazy. He don’t stop working.
I’m sure your family is really thankful to have you home for a little longer. How is everybody around you taking this situation?
I got three kids man; a 16-year old girl, 11-year old son, and a 9-year old girl. I just told them the truth about why daddy has to go to prison. Also, I told them I shouldn’t have had the gun in the car, so it’s my fault, but they know the truth about the cops illegally searching my car, racially profiling me, and lying in the courtroom, too. They really smart kids and they know daddy will be home soon.
It must be tough for them to rationalize this whole situation and understand why their father has to leave them for several years. Do you think they really understand the gravity of the situation?
Basically, I’ve always raised my kids that people learn from their mistakes and every father wants their kids to better than them. My kids know they can’t make the same mistakes I’ve made. They’ve been through a lot with me always being on the road.
Any thought on the upcoming presidential election. This is a big election year and Americans are really looking for some big changes to be made?
I feel like everybody should be involved in the vote. It affects us all, and with the American government and military is trying to take over the world… we need to be aware, people need to do their own research on what’s going on with our government and learn the facts. I’m not necessarily saying you even have to vote, but be aware of what’s happening in the world. It applies to everything: the streets, politics, laws, everything. Having knowledge, that’s how we can get change in this
Alright P, honestly, I’m not even going to predict when we’ll speak to you again, but stay safe and much success to you man. Any last words for your fans?
This is my second solo album and it’s the HNIC 2. I’m putting in more information and I’m able to articulate myself better. I have more knowledge than I did then in ‘96. I can expand on things and illuminate. I want to make sure all my fans hold me down and go on to HNIC2.com. It’s a social network that I created where people can create their own profiles with pictures, blogs, music, and everything.
You can read my blog and check out my new videos as their release. I’m going to be putting all my information on there, so my fans can write me while I’m away, I’m be writing back, too. This prison bid is going to have me more focused on my kids, my future, my goals and it will make me a better man. I promise y’all, I’m a be back in a minute better than ever.