9 episodes

When the rapper Prodigy suffered a sickle cell crisis after a Las Vegas concert in 2017, his friends didn’t think much of it at first: they were used to him getting sick. But a few days later, he died. The Realness goes behind Prodigy’s music to reveal his lifelong struggle against his own body, and how that struggle informed his lyrics and fueled his success.
The Realness by Only Human is produced by WNYC Studios, a listener-supported producer of leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and On the Media.

The Realness WNYC Studios

    • Documentary
    • 4.7, 276 Ratings

When the rapper Prodigy suffered a sickle cell crisis after a Las Vegas concert in 2017, his friends didn’t think much of it at first: they were used to him getting sick. But a few days later, he died. The Realness goes behind Prodigy’s music to reveal his lifelong struggle against his own body, and how that struggle informed his lyrics and fueled his success.
The Realness by Only Human is produced by WNYC Studios, a listener-supported producer of leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and On the Media.

    Who Killed Conscious Rap? Find Out on 'The Stakes'

    Who Killed Conscious Rap? Find Out on 'The Stakes'

    Drug wars, recessions and record violence in the 1980s had US cities in crisis. Hip hop artists responded by shifting from party music to a new style called "conscious rap." Artists like Public Enemy and Digable Planets championed a sound that was political, community-minded and deeply pro-black. But about six years after it started, that first wave of socially-conscious hip hop seemed to be over. Christopher Johnson joins host Kai Wright to find out what happened on the new podcast The Stakes.

    • 25 min
    Missing You

    Missing You

    Prodigy is supposed to fly back home right after a show in Vegas, but he never gets on the plane. As the world of hip hop mourns, there are still questions surrounding his death. We try to find answers, and go inside Prodigy’s memorial service to say goodbye to a rap icon.

    Explore More:

    ... You can dig into some amateur recordings of Prodigy’s 2017 performances at Blue Note on YouTube and Instagram.

     


     

    LANGUAGE WARNING: The Realness contains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. 

    WNYC’s health coverage and The Realness by Only Human is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Jane and Gerald Katcher and the Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

     

    • 29 min
    Go See About the God

    Go See About the God

    It's The Alchemist's birthday, but thanks to the NYPD's "Rap Intelligence Unit," he and Prodigy are forced to celebrate in a jail cell, and soon after, P is headed upstate. But even Prodigy says prison changed him for the better.

     

    Explore More:

    ... Dennis Kozlowski, the Tyco CEO who was incarcerated with Prodigy, is now the Chairman of the Board of the Fortune Society. This group works to help incarcerated individuals resume day to day life once they’re out. Check them out.

    ... People who oversee New York’s prisons think they know why healthcare inside may be subpar: there aren’t enough caregivers. Jack Beck, a representative from the Correctional Association of New York, which helps oversee the prisons, testified in 2017 that many prison healthcare jobs were vacant.  

    ... Being incarcerated didn’t stop Prodigy from making music. This song was recorded while P was inside. In it, he gives a shout out to King Benny, who visited him every weekend.

     


     

    LANGUAGE WARNING: The Realness contains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. 

    WNYC’s health coverage and The Realness by Only Human is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Jane and Gerald Katcher and the Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

    Audio of Prodigy on Questlove Supreme is provided by Pandora, which also has a recording of Mobb Deep's classic hit "Shook Ones (Part II)" performed by Nas.

    Additional audio of Prodigy provided from the audio book of My Infamous Life by Albert "Prodigy" Johnson.

    • 31 min
    The Most Racist Judge in Nassau County

    The Most Racist Judge in Nassau County

    When Prodigy goes on trial for violating parole, his lawyer files over 90 pages of P's medical records in his defense. We find those records buried deep in a Brooklyn courthouse, and they open a window into how Prodigy's body was at war with itself.

     

    Explore More:

    ... Risco Mention-Lewis, the prosecutor we speak to in this episode, is a Deputy Police Comissioner now, but her passion is a project called COTA. You can learn more about what Mention-Lewis is doing in this interview and video.

     


     

    LANGUAGE WARNING: The Realness contains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. 

    WNYC’s health coverage and The Realness by Only Human is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Jane and Gerald Katcher and the Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

    Audio of Prodigy on Questlove Supreme is provided by Pandora, which also has a recording of Mobb Deep's classic hit "Shook Ones (Part II)" performed by Nas.

    • 35 min
    A "Realness" B-Side: Roxanne Shanté

    A "Realness" B-Side: Roxanne Shanté

    Roxanne Shanté is the queen of Queensbridge rappers. As a teenager in the 1980s, she lyrically demolished all comers. In this B-side outtake, we talk with Roxanne about meeting Prodigy, encouraging Hav to go solo, and how the water in Queensbridge bestowed her with rap superpowers.

    • 18 min
    Son, They Shook

    Son, They Shook

    Someone is shot inside Def Jam. A rap star chases Mobb Deep through Lower Manhattan. And Prodigy convinces a hip hop mogul to sneak weapons into one of New York's most decadent nightclubs. Mobb Deep came up in rap’s golden age. No other group defined the era quite like the duo from Queens.

    Explore More: 

    ... This interview on NPR's Microphone Check is the first time Ali Shaheed Muhammad talked to Prodigy, in public, about the Def Jam shooting he tells us about in this episode. It's worth a listen.

    ... Right after Prodigy died, Havoc did this really interesting interview with Mass Appeal. He talks about what P was like in the early days - and how Hav was constantly warning Prodigy about carrying guns around with him. 

    ... This article about The Tunnel is a must-read. When you're done with that, check out this list of top "Tunnel Bangers": there are plenty of Mobb Deep tunes on there.

     


     

    LANGUAGE WARNING: The Realness contains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. 

    WNYC’s health coverage and The Realness by Only Human is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Jane and Gerald Katcher and the Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

    Audio of Prodigy on Questlove Supreme is provided by Pandora, which also has a recording of Mobb Deep's classic hit "Shook Ones (Part II)" performed by Nas.

    Additional audio of Prodigy provided from the audio book of My Infamous Life by Albert "Prodigy" Johnson.

    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
276 Ratings

276 Ratings

Ezee173 ,

THUN LANGUAGE

True MOBB fan out in Los Angeles.. thank you for telling the Prodigy-MOBB DEEP story. I still feel the loss of P all the time. It’s great to hear the voices of Prodigy’s family & friends as they share these great memories. #ForeverP

Sean Vee ,

Incredibly moving.

Thank you! Respect to the gods P&H.

Can't believe someone called this corny! Get lost.

Caesar2424 ,

Fantastic. Thank you.

Such a sad, yet fascinating story. Amazing talent. The best, and one of the only, part two’s that you could do that may stand up to this would be Guru/Gang Starr. I would LOVE to hear the real, real deal on that whole story. Solar did that man wrong.

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