From Jerry McKim on Facebook, 6/21/17: We lost a very good friend today Tony Funches. He was a big brother, a mentor. He taught many of us the rock and roll business. We had the best security crew in the rock and roll business thanks to Tony. He will always be a part of us. We will miss him so much. We love you and your family, Tony. The Original Feyline Crew
From Scotty Brown on Facebook, 6/21/17: Dale Armstrong – former owner of Hiccups [we’ll try to report on any services for Dale soon.]
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Rapper Prodigy, a/k/a Albert Johnson
Albert Johnson (November 2, 1974 – June 20, 2017), better known by his stage name Prodigy, was an American rapper and one half of the hip hop duo Mobb Deep with Havoc.
Prodigy was born in Hempstead, New York, and came from a musical family. His grandfather Budd Johnson was a saxophonist and his great-uncle Keg Johnson a trombonist, both remembered for their contributions to the Bebop era of jazz in the 1940s. His mother, Fatima Frances (Collins) Johnson (d. 2016), was a member of The Crystals. His father, Budd Johnson Jr, was a member of a Doo wop music group called The Chanters.
Prodigy grew up in LeFrak City. While attending the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, he met his future music partner, Havoc. The duo became The “Poetical Prophets”, before choosing the name “The Infamous Mobb Deep” from a mutual friend. It is during this time that the duo spent more time at the Queensbridge Houses with other up-and-coming artists. Under the alias Lord-T (The Golden Child), the then 16-year-old Johnson joined Jive and landed an uncredited guest appearance on the Boyz N The Hood soundtrack on the song “Too Young” by Hi-Five in 1991.
Propelled to awareness partially by fellow rapper Nas, who took a similar approach lyrically on his Illmatic album from 1994, as well as with the aid of a successful single, “Shook Ones Pt. 2,” Mobb Deep released The Infamous in 1995 and was certified Gold by the RIAA within the first 2 months. A year and a half later, at the end of 1996, Prodigy and Havoc released Hell on Earth; debuting at number six on SoundScan the album was composed with both evocative beats and cinematic rhymes that communicated the dark side of New York’s urban landscape. Due to a grim video for “Hell on Earth (Front Lines)” and theatrical Scarface-like photos inside the CD booklet picturing the duo with guns and a mound of cocaine, Mobb Deep had created an elaborate image for themselves that took hardcore gangsta rap to a new level for East Coast hip hop and the album sold over 500,000 units in the United States within the first two months again. Its next release, Murda Muzik, was heavily bootlegged while still in its demo stage, leaking, onto the streets and over the internet, rough versions of the nearly 30 songs the duo had recorded.
He started work on his third solo album H.N.I.C. Part 2, which was previewed on his official mixtape The Return of the Mac on the independent label Koch Records. The mixtape single and mixtape video are called “Mac 10 Handle”. H.N.I.C. Pt. 2 was released through Voxonic Inc., of which Prodigy is an equity holder. In late 2009, Mobb Deep was released from its contract with 50 Cent’s G-Unit label. He served a three-year sentence in Mid-State medium-security prison, following a plea agreement stemming from a gun-possession charge. He was officially released on March 7, 2011.
Prodigy released a 2001 autobiography, My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. It was co-written with Laura Checkoway and published by Touchstone Books. Prodigy was featured in the 2011 documentary, Rhyme and Punishment, a film that documents Hip-Hop artists who have been incarcerated. The film documents Prodigy’s trial and his last days before starting his prison sentence. In 2011, Prodigy released a free EP called The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP which is his first project since being released from prison. On April 21, a song titled “The Type”, with Curren$y, was released on Curren$y’s free album, entitled Covert Coup. Prodigy has publicly spoken out against the Illuminati, a secret society.
In 2013, Prodigy released his second collaboration album with The Alchemist titled Albert Einstein. On April 1, 2014, Mobb Deep released The Infamous Mobb Deep their eighth studio album. In August 2016, he released an untitled EP of five tracks, released in partnership with BitTorrent , an association that Prodigy had been working up for a while.
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In an interview with Vibe in November 2000, Prodigy spoke about what inspired him to directly address his battle with sickle-cell anemia on the song “You Can Never Feel My Pain” from his debut studio album H.N.I.C. He attributes his nihilism to the “permanent physical suffering” caused by his lifelong battle with the condition.
“Tupac, Ja Rule–a whole bunch of people talk about pain. And Tupac, he even said some shit about my sickle-cell [on his song “Hit ‘Em Up”], so that inspired me to make a real song to show niggas what pain is.” — Prodigy, Vibe magazine, November 2000.
On June 20, 2017, it was reported that Prodigy died in Las Vegas, Nevada after having been hospitalized a few days earlier for complications related to his sickle-cell anemia. He was performing in the Art of Rap Tour in Las Vegas with Havoc, Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One and Ice-T when he was hospitalized. The exact cause of his death is yet to be determined.
Wikipedia article is more detailed. Read it here:
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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths… June 2017
21: Ludger Rémy, 68, German harpsichordist and conductor.
20: Prodigy, 42, American rapper (Mobb Deep), complications from sickle cell anemia.
18: Chris Murrell, 61, American jazz singer.
17: Thara Memory, 68, American jazz trumpeter.
15: Sheila Raye Charles, 53, American singer-songwriter, breast cancer; Jacques Charpentier, 83, French composer and organist; Kyla Greenbaum, 95, British pianist.
14: Luis Abanto Morales, 93, Peruvian singer and composer.