We lost a Hip Hop legend yesterday when Prodigy of Mobb Deep succumbed to what I assume was his long battle with Sickle Cell Anemia.
The loss was sobering.
Sobering in a sense that all unexpected deaths tend to remind us of our own mortality and the limited earthly time we’re working with, but also sobering in the sense of showing the Hip Hop world how serious Sickle Cell Anemia really, really is.
I remember first hearing about Prodigy suffering from the disease when Tupac referenced it on one of the disses he manufactured against what seemed like half the rap industry. Being the immature teenager myself and many of us were back then, we viewed the barb as a delightfully evil but calculated attack that was nothing more than a clever Hip Hop jab.
But that first time hearing about Prodigy suffering from the ailment was not the first time of I’ve heard of the disease. The fact of the matter is my sister has the trait to Sickle Cell. Which means she cannot have children with someone else that also has the trait to Sickle Cell or else their children will be born with the disease.
How many people are in such a position? How many people have to carefully select their mates in hopes their children can bypass a potentially deadly disease? Probably a better question is how many people even know if they carry the trait to make such a choice?
That’s the thing about Hip Hop culture. Our thing is highly competitive and proud and often times, we shun away from anything that may make us be perceived as weak or human – even if it means our own health and well-being. It’s the nature of the streets that Hip Hop was born from. But we must, as a community and a culture, move away from the toughguy/girl act. We gotta start learning about our bodies.
Maybe because the culture is so young that we never think about Hip Hop at an old age. Maybe Hip Hop fools us into thinking we’ll be forever young.
I doubt P felt like that.
Like the song he created professing his dealings with his health problem, we could never feel his pain. But maybe, just maybe we can learn from it.
Rest well, Prodigy. You’ll be missed.