This article originally appeared on Noisey US.
Day 273: "Tha Mobb" – Tha Carter II, 2005
Today, hip-hop lost one of its legends, Prodigy of the Queensbridge duo Mobb Deep. Details are still emerging about the full circumstances of his death, but tributes have been pouring in from across the hip-hop world. Among those to pay their respects was Lil Wayne, who tweeted, "Damn. RiP to the great one Prodigy. Rap game lost a legend the world lost a G. [prayer hands emoji] to and for his fam. Love. MOBB."
As far as I know and can ascertain, Wayne and Prodigy never actually worked together, although Wayne did record over Mobb Deep's "Backwards" for the mixtape freestyle "Alchemist Shit" in 2005. However, Wayne was undeniably a fan of Prodigy's – and a friend. Wayne even blurbed Prodigy's 2011 autobiography, My Infamous Life. He wrote: "When I first heard Mobb Deep I liked them because NY finally got some real niggas rapping. They were doing that back pack rapping in NY so when they came out with that street shit I felt that. I like how Prodigy just say what the fuck he want."
The respect was mutual. A 2008 Alchemist blog post I unearthed while looking into connections between the two rappers describes a visit Alchemist took upstate to visit Prodigy at Midstate Correctional Facility, where he was serving a sentence at the time. In it, Alchemist mentioned, "He told me he was proud of me for the Lil Wayne joint, and that he was actually building with Weezy a lot right before he went in, which I had no idea." (Alchemist produced "You Ain't Got Nuthin'" on Tha Carter III).
That wasn't the end of the discussions, either. Speaking with Sway on MTV's RapFix Live in 2011, Prodigy referred to conversations during their overlapping prison sentences in 2010. "Actually we was talking while we were both locked up," he said. "We was in communication with each other. He made a little quote for me on my autobiography, on the cover of the book. We supposed to be doing some music in the future."
That collaboration never surfaced, although perhaps there is a track buried in the vaults somewhere. But I'd like to think that the friendship endured in recent years. If nothing else, we can celebrate the mutual admiration.
After all, it's easy to imagine Wayne intentionally channeling Prodigy's gritty, evocative lyricism on Tha Carter II's intro "Tha Mobb," which is the first song that sprung to mind when I read Lil Wayne's tweet, with its signoff of "MOBB." It's an arresting album intro, an equal to the realness and confidence Wayne saw in Prodigy's raps ("Start 'em, ignite 'em / I walk through fire / watch the flames start multiplyin'"). I hope that it won't be the last time Wayne's name and "Mobb" find themselves in the same place as Wayne, like the rest of us, continues to honor the late great's legacy.
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