Prodigy, the hard-nosed Queens rapper who kiln-fired New York hip-hop into a thing of unhurried attitude and stoic elegance as half of the duo Mobb Deep, died Tuesday in Las Vegas. He was 42.
His publicist, Roberta Magrini, said that Prodigy was hospitalized there following a recent Mobb Deep performance, for complications of sickle cell anemia, which he had been battling since birth. She added that the cause of death had not yet been determined.
Prodigy brought a no-nonsense personality and a vivid eye for detail to his lyrics, brutal evocations of cruel street life in the Queensbridge housing projects that were sometimes achingly poetic: “I put my lifetime in between the paper’s lines,” he rapped on “Quiet Storm,” one of Mobb Deep’s most memorable songs.
On three essential albums — “The Infamous,” from 1995; “Hell on Earth,” from 1996; and “Murda Muzik,” from 1999 — Mobb Deep became standard bearers for the sound of New York rap: unfazed, unsentimental, uncompromising.