Mobb Deep‘s Prodigy (born Albert Johnson) recently passed away on Tuesday (June 20) due to sickle cell anemia complications in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hip-hop has already mourned the life of the legendary Queens MC through several tributes from the likes of 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Just Blaze, Nas, Schoolboy Q, and his partner-in-rhyme and producer, Havoc.
Although loved and respected by the industry, Prodigy had a history of confronting MCs he felt were disrespectful. Known for his raw and hardcore lyrics and a no-holds-barred mentality towards anyone who came for him, Prodigy got himself in a sizable amount of beefs in the rap game only to eventually squash them.
Below, Billboard revisits some of the most prominent feuds Prodigy has had over the years.
After the heated 1995 Source Awards that showed the evident tension between the East and West (Snoop Dogg even rhetorically asked, “The east coast don’t love Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?”), the Doggfather released a video for the song “New York, New York,” knocking over buildings and causing a mess all over the respective city. Prodigy notes in an interview with Vlad TV how he wasn’t sure why Snoop Dogg was so heated but guess he was just taking up for his crew. Years later, Prodigy would patch things up with Snoop, officially declaring him “the homie” when talking about the past drama with BET.
After Mobb Deep’s response to Snoop Dogg’s “New York, New York” record with “L.A., L.A.,” Tupac already had a gripe with Biggie, feeling like the Brooklyn MC was involved in his shooting before he went to jail and released “Hit Em Up” in June of 1996. In the outro of the East Coast diss, Tupac took shots at Mobb Deep even noting Prodigy’s illness which today, feels overwhelming below the belt. In an interview with Vlad TV in 2012 Prodigy understood post-feud how Tupac was just repping the West side and riding for his crew even though Mobb Deep had no beef with him.
As a successful entrepreneur, businessman, and rap OG these days, JAY-Z doesn’t bring directly diss or call out any of his potential dissenters (though you never know with his new album 4:44 dropping on Tidal and Sprint next Friday). However, back in 1998, Hov made a song called “Money, Cash, Hoes” that almost served as the East Coast’s response to Snoop’s “New York, New York.” At Hot 97’s at Summer Jam in 2001, Jay debuted his scathing track “Takeover” coming straight for Mobb Deep and Prodigy, specifically referencing his days being at his grandma’s dance school and projected a picture of him dressed as Michael Jackson as a boy. Months later after running into each other at a restaurant in New York, P and Jay decided to let bygones be bygones. Years later, Jay would admit the tremendous impact Prodigy had on hip hop saying, “for a period of time he was close to being the best rapper in the game.”
Prodigy’s beef with Nas stemmed from members of Nas’ crew who felt like he was overstepping his boundaries representing Queensbridge when he wasn’t from that hood originally. Years later, once Prodigy — bred in Hempstead — got out of jail, both of the rappers had a phone call to quell any potential animosity between the two. Nas hadn’t even known that Prodigy spoke about him in his book, My Infamous Life, but the two men put aside their differences and soon collaborated together on a track called “Dog S–t.”
In 2007, Prodigy did an interview where he noted that he wasn’t very fond of Saigon. After running into Saigon at New York venue S.O.B.s, P got into an altercation with him and the years that followed featured both taking digs at each other. In 2014, Saigon did an interview noting in hindsight, the impulsiveness of fighting Prodigy after hearing him talk bad about him.
In 2000, Any Given Sunday‘s soundtrack was released with the Mobb Deep track, “Never Goin Back,” which included a Prodigy verse that was actually originally recorded on a Tru Life song. Tru Life took offense to what he deemed “double dippin,” and a long-standing feud ensued soon after. It wasn’t until Tru Life got out of prison in April 2016 that the two MCs finally put their beef to rest both proclaiming they were in a better place with each other on Instagram.
LL Cool J released a remix for “I Shot Ya” in 1995, with both Prodigy and Murray featured on track. Right after Murray’s opening, Prodigy took shots at the rapper. Murray felt blindsided by the diss and later, in an encounter at the club, both rappers got into an altercation. Years later, the two would go back and forth dissing each other in songs and in interviews, making up then seemingly being at odds again. Finally in 2012, the two MCs appeared in a picture on Instagram with Busta Rhymes, signaling a truce.
—PRODIGY MOBBDEEP (@PRODIGYMOBBDEEP) June 17, 2012
On “The Infamous Prelude” from Mobb Deep’s The Infamous album, Prodigy called out “half-a– rappers” who “talking about how much you get high, how much week you smoke, and that crazy space shit that don’t even make sense.” Redman took offense to the record and along with Murray, who also felt slighted, confronted Prodigy at the former New York hotspot The Tunnel.
In 2012, Havoc sent out a series of left-field tweets going at Prodigy. In one of his comments, he accused Prodigy of having a relationship with a man while in jail. Though initially claiming to be hacked, audio surfaced online of Havoc saying the same statement he made on his tweets. The group ended up taking a break for a while, but luckily got back together to release the The Infamous Mobb Deep album in 2014. Speaking to MTV in 2013, Prodigy reflects on his relationship with Havoc saying, “Me and Hav got a different type of relationship, man.” He adds, “We been through a lot of stuff growing up, just personal stuff. When you dealing with somebody for that long everyday, you’re gonna have your little squabbles or whatever, it’s nothing.”