Prodigy Interview: Pre-Prison Exclusive
|Next Project:||H.N.I.C. 2|
|Twitter:||Prodigy on Twitter|
Rapper Prodigy of the legendary New York duo, Mobb Deep, is set to release his new solo album, “H.N.I.C 2,” on April 8th. The only catch, however, is that he won’t be around this spring to help promote the LP.
After being granted two medical reprieves this month, due to his sickle-cell anemia (during which he admits to filming sixteen videos for the upcoming project), Prodigy will turn himself over to police on Wednesday (February 20) to begin serving a 3.5 year prison sentence that stems from an illegal gun possession conviction.
In an exclusive pre-prison interview, DJBooth‘s DJ “Z,” spoke with Prodigy about why his upcoming album will succeed despite his bid, who he’d cast his vote for in the November election (prisoners are not allowed to vote in the United States) and what led him to theorize about the existence of a ‘secret government agency’ and their mission to exterminate the population.
Listen to the Interview
Prodigy Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is one half of the M.O.B.B. Set to begin a three and a half year prison sentence this week, please welcome rapper Prodigy – how you doin’?
Prodigy: What’s up, man? Chillin’, chillin’; everything’s good. It’s nice day in New York.
DJ Booth: That’s what I like to hear. It’s a nice day in Chicago also, ‘cause it’s been cold and snowy – it’s just depressin’ me.
Prodigy: Yeah, it’s cold out here, but it’s nice and sunny out here too.
DJ Booth: P, twice you’ve been granted a medical reprieve from the judge. It seems as though this week is your week, so describe your mind state right now.
Prodigy: Everything’s good, man. I’ve been making sure the promotion for the album is straight, that’s why we’re trying to get those postponements in court. That’s about it. Everything’s good. I got a chance to do everything I needed to do to promote the album. I shot sixteen videos, plus some mix tape records that I did, shot videos for those as well. Everything came out good, man. Just doin’ a lot of interviews, radio, and everything.
DJ Booth: The project, entitled “H.N.I.C. 2,” is due out April the eighth. Knowing that your bid was just around the corner, did you think about possibly pushing up the project release?
Prodigy: Nah, ‘cause you need time nowadays, you gotta promote things right. That’s what a lot of these artists don’t do; they just drop albums and expect people just to buy ‘em because of who they are. But you gotta let people be aware that the album is in the store. That’s the problem: a lot of people not even aware that it’s in stores. I’ve just been spending my time making sure that the awareness is there, making sure we got enough space in between the promotion of the album and the actual album being in the stores, you know what I mean?
DJ Booth: Definitely. Shyne and Beanie Sigel, among others, both released projects after starting their respective prison sentences, and consequently, neither of those projects did well, so how will this time around be different?
Prodigy: Well, number one, you’re dealin’ with me – this is a Prodigy album! I don’t play that. Number two, a lot of these artists, they expect to just drop an album, like “I’m going to jail, so I’ll drop an album now, and this makes me look thug.” But that’s not what it’s all about. This whole BS jail time is a slap on the wrist for me. This is nothing compared to what my father did: many years in the fed, a lot of friends that never comin’ home, locked up for life. This little jail time is nothing. It doesn’t make me look tough in any kind of way and I don’t want it to make me look tough. That’s the whole thing: you just gotta make sure the awareness is there for the album, you gotta make sure your videos is tight – I shot a video for every song on my album. Nobody did that before, in my type of situation. There’s a big difference between my album and those other artists that you may have seen, that had an album out while they was in jail. I’ve been workin’ on “H.N.I.C. 2” since 2004, way before the case even came up. I just so happened to catch the case along the way. That’s what it is, basically, and I just gotta deal with a little jail time. When I get home, I’m hittin’ the road to promote the album goin’ right on tour – I got a lot of reasons why this album is gonna be different, ‘cause we’re dealin’ with the Voxsonic technology. [They] gonna have my album in several different languages, and it’s some real groundbreaking technology, nobody’s ever done it before, and we’re the only company that has patents on the technology – nobody else can do what we about to do.
DJ Booth: You said the album’s gonna be available in multiple languages. How does Prodigy sound in Spanish or Hebrew?
Prodigy: [laughter] It sounds real good, man. To hear the words that I say in these different languages, it’s definitely sounds real good. I heard the Spanish version recently; it’s just real tight, man. It’s tight.
DJ Booth: Well, it seems like you’ve done a lot to make sure that this project excels. Obviously you shot sixteen videos, and I read that you’ve given your wife numero uno control over the project. Did you need to interview her for it, of after fifteen years was it obvious she was the best candidate to take control?
Prodigy: Yeah, I mean, she’s been around me since the beginning of my career. She was around since “Juvenile Hell,” and all that. She knows exactly what it takes to sell a record, exactly what it takes to do the day-in, day-out business and everything. I trust her with everything. Basically, along with the Voxsonic people, those are my partners, but she can handle it. She’s the only one that I would trust with all my material anyway, ‘cause I got a lot of material that’s gonna be unreleased, until it’s time to release it, so I wouldn’t trust to give that to anybody but my wife.
DJ Booth: Well, if you can’t trust your wife, I don’t know who you could trust, so that’s definitely a smart move on your part. P, one of the tracks on the new album is the Alchemist-produced, “Young Veterans.” So, at thirty-three years old, do you consider yourself a young veteran in this rap game?
Prodigy: Yeah, definitely. ‘Cause, we just been doin’ it for a minute now. We came into the game when we was fourteen, we was little kids when we first came into the game with “Juvenile Hell.” That’s how I look at us. When you look at Mobb Deep [we] still look good. We still look like we’re nineteen, twenty years old. We still got that energy, when we makin’ our music, when you hear the songs, it still feels like the same young energy. We are young veterans – you can compare us to vets in the game that started rap, like Kool Herc, and people like that. But at the same time, we’re not that old as some of these other dudes that came up before us, like Puff, Jay-Z, that we used to look up to.
DJ Booth: P, at the time you’re released, you’ll be thirty-six. Still a young veteran then?
Prodigy: Yeah, still a young veteran, all the way up to where you’re just like, “Aw, he ain’t young no more, just give it up,” you know what I’m sayin’?
DJ Booth: [laughter] Well, make yourself look good, and, as they say, age ain’t nothing but a number anyways.
Prodigy: No doubt, no doubt.
DJ Booth: The way people handle disease and illness varies. Some like to keep it private; others feel it’s very important to let the world know what they’re battling. You’ve made your fight against sickle-cell anemia very public. Was that a hard decision?
Prodigy: No, definitely not, ‘cause it’s something I was born with, and I deal with it every day. It’s definitely not as hard decision. I love to promote good health and certain things that you’re supposed to be doin’ with your diet, because I want other people with sickle-cell to learn how I live, because a lot of times we do shows, and after the show a fan will come up to me like, “Yo, how you got so much energy on stage?” and “How do you this for so long, and live this lifestyle. Like, I got sickle-cell too; I don’t know how you do it.” I always tell ‘em, it’s the diet and the mental attitude too. I definitely put it out there so people can learn from my situation, and see what I go through, and hopefully I can inspire other people with sickle-cell to get their stuff together and get out there and do what they gotta do. Don’t let it hold you back.
DJ Booth: Who knows, maybe when you finish your jail sentence you can do some motivational speaking?
Prodigy: Definitely. We always go to juvenile detention centers and we been doin’ it for years, since the beginning of our career. We go to jails in DC, and there will be little kids twelve to thirteen years old, locked up for murder, and we’ll be there talkin’ to them for like an hour or two. Or even in Atlanta, we’ll go to the centers down in Atlanta. That’s what Mobb Deep’s been doin’. We like doin’ things like that to give to the youth, to the kids and community.
DJ Booth: P, you’ve been quoted as saying, “I’m not afraid to die.” So, is that Prodigy the rapper talking, or is that Albert Johnson, Jr., the man talking?
Prodigy: Nah, it’s always Albert Johnson talking. I just go by Prodigy in the rap world ‘cause it sounds better than Albert Johnson [laughter].
DJ Booth: [laughter] Do you really feel that way, or is that just a comfort to all of your fans who have followed you for so long, to let them know that you’re gonna continue doing what you’re doing, and you’re not going to let anything, whether it be a jail sentence or a disease stop you?
Prodigy: It’s just real. That’s how it is, that’s how I feel. Every day I wake up like, “This might be my last day, and I’m not scared of it. I’m gonna go out there, do what I gotta do; I ain’t gonna let nothing stop me.” Nothing puts any fear in my heart. [I’m] never scared to bite my tongue about something, or never be scared to come out and speak about something – that’s what I mean. Like, I ain’t scared of death. What you gonna do to me?
DJ Booth: If this was, hypothetically, the last interview you were to do, reveal something to the world, P, that you’ve never been asked in the form of a question, but you’ve always thought about sharing.
Prodigy: Aw, man, like, if this was my last interview…
DJ Booth: Just share something with the world.
Prodigy: I would tell people that there’s a secret government out here. It’s been functioning since the beginning of time, and their whole job is population control. A lot of it is racist, so their target black people and minorities. People need to watch out for that, pay attention to how they’re tryin’ to change these laws, and they’re tryin’ to control the world. They don’t want just America or Europe any more; they want the entire globe. And that’s what’s goin’ on right now. If this is my last interview, I want people to know that, and to handle that, ‘cause that’s what I’m out here handlin’ every day.
DJ Booth: P, since our government doesn’t allow prisoners to vote in an election, you will be unable to cast your ballot this November. So let’s cast it right now – who would you like to see as our next president?
Prodigy: Ron Paul.
DJ Booth: By the time your three and a half year sentence ends, maybe even earlier for good behavior, disclose one problem, other than the one you just mentioned, that’s currently plaguing America, that you’d like to see Ron Paul [if elected] remedy or fix?
Prodigy: These illegal wars that been goin’ on for all these years. These wars are illegal; in order to have a war, you gotta have a declaration of war. There has been no declaration of war. Every single war that you see go down is illegal. They’re breaking the Geneva Convention, and they’re breakin’ all kinds of sh*t they ain’t supposed to be. All these soldiers that’s dyin’, every talkin’ about, “Support our troops, support our troops,” yeah we support our troops, but what are they fightin’ for? Let’s support ‘em for the right reason. Let’s tell our troops the truth, and maybe they wouldn’t be out there fightin’ these wars, because there are a lot of these troops that don’t even wanna be out there if you talk to them. They realize that what they’re doin’ is foul, and they’re enrollin’ in something that they had no idea what they was enrollin’ into.
DJ Booth: That’s a great point, and a lot of people that I’ve spoken with say, you know, “We have so many issues on our home front; we need to stop worrying about problems overseas and just concentrate right here.”
Prodigy: Exactly. Bush is tryin’ to pass this law, tryin’ to get six hundred billion dollars to fight all these wars – he just deaded health care for little kids recently, and nobody really don’t even know that. You can’t spend a little bit of money on health care for kids, but you can spend six hundred billion dollars on a war? How much sense does that make?
DJ Booth: Not much at all. It’s interesting: in the wake of last week’s school shooting at Northern Illinois University, do you feel that, in retrospect, you were wronged by our legal system for being charged with gun possession, or does the sentence seem justifiable considering all of the recent gun-related deaths?
Prodigy: Number one, the problem is not gun possession; the problem is manufacturing guns – who’s making these guns and how they gettin’ out on the street? There shouldn’t even be guns for us to possess. If there wasn’t any, then it wouldn’t be a problem. So we need to go to the source of the problem. They’re making all these wars so they can make more weapons and sell them, and they wanna kill more people – they need population control, ‘cause people have to die in order for this world to continue. They’re tryin’ to kill off like five hundred million people by the year 2012 – five hundred million people need to die. That’s the government’s goal right now.
DJ Booth: Well, that’s not gonna swing, and if more people like yourself, in high-profile positions, start talkin’ about it, maybe when a new president is elected, they’ll do something about it.
Prodigy: Yeah, exactly. We gotta start votin’ for who should be a candidate instead of votin’ for the candidates that they give us.
DJ Booth: You’re right. It’s like, when you’re a little kid, and your mom said, “Do you want Apple Jacks or Fruit Loops,” and you’re like, “Nah, I want neither – I want Frosted Flakes.”
Prodigy: Exactly. That should be the real vote; that’s the most important vote.
DJ Booth: P, I echo your sentiments whole-heartedly, and I wish you nothing but the best of luck with the upcoming jail sentence, and obviously the release of the new album this April. Give everybody a website or a MySpace page, so they can find out more about what you got goin’ on.
Prodigy: Definitely. Everybody can go check out hnic2.com, people can find out all this information what I’m talkin’ about, about politics, the secret government. It’s not just my album; you know what I’m sayin’? I could sell you my album all day, but what’s real is, the real issues that’s goin’ on in this world, I’ll be leavin’ my information up there so fans can write me letters while I’m in jail. I’ll be corresponding with the fans and everything.
DJ Booth: Prodigy, I thank you for taking the time to join me inside the DJ Booth, and the best of health to you.
Prodigy: All right. Thanks a lot, man.