For nearly 15 years, since Mobb Deepâ€™s debut in â€™93, Juvenile Hell, to their latest release in 2006, Blood Money, Prodigy, arguably the more lyrically gifted half of the duo has been making musc. The Queens native plans to release solo work to showcase his lyrical ability to masses of fans with his upcoming mixtape and album. Prodigy collaborates with Koch Records producer, Alchemist, on his mixtape, Return of the Mac, in lieu of his upcoming LP, H.N.I.C. II, set for release in March.
Despite Nas’ allegations of hip-hop’s death, Prodigy feels not only that hip-hop is alive, hip-hop is “Kickin you in the ass” and only the foolish would neglect to recognize him as one of the “biggest artists in the game.”
â€œTo me, whoever made up hip-hop is dead is a motherfuckin fool, period. Because youâ€™re just a fool for making that statement.â€
Format: Please explain your mixtape Return of The Mac.
Prodigy: Return of The Mac is something that me and Alchemist put together, special collaboration. You talking about the Return of the M-A-C. We ainâ€™t talking about pimpinâ€™ you know what I mean. All the beats are crazy. It came out so good so we like fuck it, we treat this shit like an album. Itâ€™s like a pre-album for H.N.I.C. II. Really we made it as a mixtape, H.N.I.C. II, but itâ€™s almost like a pre-album.
Format: What are your relationships like with your label and Alchemist?
Prodigy: Basically, you know what I mean, the label Infamous Records was just â€“ you know thatâ€™s the label right there thatâ€™s what it is. Our relationship with Alchemist goes back to Murda Muzik album. We just been working together ever since, Mobb Deep and Alchemist.
Format: Whatâ€™s your situation with G-Unit, why didnâ€™t you drop the mixtape under them?
Prodigy: I mean basically, you know dealing with 50, he let us do our own thing, get our bread with our solo career. He was like basically, â€˜Iâ€™m not trying to hold yâ€™all back, do what yâ€™all wanna do, get ya shit.â€™ We told him what we had planned and he was like, â€˜Man get ya bread!â€™ Basically thatâ€™s what it is. Mobb Deep is still on G-Unit and we able to get our money elsewhere, too, at the same time.
â€œBasically thatâ€™s what it is. Mobb Deep is still on G-Unit and we able to get our money elsewhere, too, at the same time.â€
Format: What is your favorite track off the mixtape and why?
Prodigy: One of my favorite joints is the first one, â€œStuck to You,â€ saying, because itâ€™s just ill. Nah mean, itâ€™s a crazy, crazy song. Another one of my favorites is â€œSeventh Heaven. Thereâ€™s a lot of joints on there.
Format: Your video for â€œMac 10 Handleâ€ was received a lot of acclaim, why make a video for a mixtape single?
Prodigy: I mean just cause Iâ€™m just being myself. Do what I wanna do, thatâ€™s how you can tell. I just do whatever I wanna do. Iâ€™m like, â€˜Aight, Iâ€™m a shoot a video for this tomorrow. Letâ€™s do it!â€™ Put it out on YouTube so everybody can see it. You ainâ€™t gotta wait for some program director, somebody like, â€˜I like itâ€™ or â€˜I donâ€™t like itâ€™ to put it on they channel. Itâ€™s going out anyway on the Internet. Thatâ€™s what we focusing on, right. Just focusing on the ground work, nah mean, dealing with our fans at the ground level.
Format: There is speculation as to who is in the reflection in the mirror in the â€œMac 10 Handleâ€ video, is that supposed to be Nas?
Prodigy: Nah. Thatâ€™s foolishness. If you look at it you can see that, thatâ€™s not Nas.
â€œYou ainâ€™t gotta wait for some program director, somebody like, â€˜I like itâ€™ or â€˜I donâ€™t like itâ€™ to put it on they channel. Itâ€™s going out anyway on the Internet.â€
Format: Who is that supposed to represent then?
Prodigy: Just a extra in the video. Just like everybody else that was in this video that you saw. Extras playing the film. I shot all these people on the TV then next thing you know thereâ€™s the devil in my room. When I look in the mirror, somebody that I just killed if you watch the video.
Format: Do you feel artists going independent through mixtapes will spark a takeover of the rap game form its commercialized state?
Prodigy: Nah, I just feel like when you do what you want to do, just be yourself. People [are] going to feel you. Itâ€™s just having your shit out there, they going to feel you and your shit on take off whether youâ€™re independent or major, however it is. Itâ€™s all about the music first, it donâ€™t matter what route you go, if you ainâ€™t got the music you ainâ€™t got nothing!
Format: A lot of rappers have voiced their opinions on Nasâ€™ statement that hip-hop is dead. Do you feel offended by that statement?
Prodigy: Nah, I donâ€™t feel offended by that statement, but I think itâ€™s a dumbass statement though, cause how can you say hip-hop is dead when you got a lot people thatâ€™s brand new to them, you got people thatâ€™s poppinâ€™ off at this shit you know. Whoever says hip-hop is dead is making themselves sound like you got some kind of qualities that you donâ€™t like about yourself. To me, whoever made up hip-hop is dead is a motherfuckin fool, period. Because youâ€™re just a fool for making that statement. Thatâ€™s a foolish statement. You need to just shut up, man.
Format: So what do you think of music today and hip-hop culture if itâ€™s not dead?
Prodigy: Itâ€™s alive and kickinâ€™ you in the ass. Iâ€™m alive, hip-hop is alive and kickin you in the ass.
Format: How do you feel about the newer artists and the southern domination of the radio?
Prodigy: They kickin you in the ass! Basically, they kickinâ€™ niggas in the ass, because they poppinâ€™ off right now. So, hip-hop is alive and kickinâ€™, baby.
Format: Do you feel your mixtape and other New York artists are going to bring the focus back to New York?
Prodigy: Nah, you canâ€™t bring nothing back that ainâ€™t went no where. The biggest artist in the rap game is from Queens, NY. It ainâ€™t go no where.
Format: Well, when you look at the Billboard charts the majority happen to be from south.
Prodigy: They makin hot shit.
Format: Do you feel thatâ€™s going to change, because some people feel that New York isnâ€™t putting out anything hot anymore, therefore the south is taking over?
Prodigy: How can you say that when the biggest artist in music, in rap music is from Queens, NY. Thatâ€™s just another foolish statement like hip-hop is dead. Thatâ€™s foolish statement number two, whoever made that one up is an asshole.
â€œâ€¦that was something that Interscope did. They didnâ€™t like something I said so they decided to tell me to change it or the album wasnâ€™t going to come out. Iâ€™m like wow OK. Fuck my freedom of speech, like that donâ€™t exist.â€
Format: You have been in the game for a long time, how do you feel the music industry has changed in terms of content and skill, as well as artist and label relations?
Prodigy: I donâ€™t know nothing `bout none of that. I just know how to make good music. Relations, we ainâ€™t in for none of that. Our music makes good business for us, makes good money.
Format: In a press release you were quoted as saying you were being censored by major labels. Do you feel you were being censored the entire time or was it more something that became a current issue?
Prodigy: Nah, that was something that Interscope did. They didnâ€™t like something I said so they decided to tell me to change it or the album wasnâ€™t going to come out. Iâ€™m like wow OK. Fuck my freedom of speech, like that donâ€™t exist. But I changed it and the album coming out now. Iâ€™d rather just say what I want to say. I got a lot to say, because you canâ€™t hide what I got to say, because itâ€™s real.
Format: What other kinds of things have you been working on do you have any other outside business ventures or hobbies?
Prodigy: I like writing movies â€“ I love [movies]. Thereâ€™s going to be a lot of that type of shit coming out the camp. Production for other people, Alchemist is doing production for mad people. Havoc does production for crazy people. Writing, songwriting. You going see a lot of shit. Thereâ€™s a lot of different things happening. A lot of things you canâ€™t talk about no more, because people take ideas just blatantly. We donâ€™t talk about a lot of shit no more.
Format: You spoke on your chemistry with Alchemist, if you could collaborate with any other producer or artist who would that be?
Prodigy: Who would it be, probably be like Alicia Keys, Mary J. Like a lot of that soul, R&B.
Format: If you could put any two artists or producers in the studio together who would they be?
Prodigy: I would have to say Alchemist and Hav. Thatâ€™d be crazy to have them do a whole fuckinâ€™ shit together.
Format: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Prodigy: Go hard or go home.