Affectionately speaking, Prodigy has always been one of hip-hop’s biggest jerks. Maybe it began with the remarkably anti-social rant on the second track from Mobb Deep’s classic album The Infamous, where the Queens-bred rapper essentially requests that people not speak to him unless they feel inclined to be “shot, stabbed or knuckled down.” However, Prodigy isn’t rude in the sense that he wants to manifest excessive confidence. The guy really doesn’t seem too interested in money, fame or women. Probably not aesthetically palatable to casual rap-listeners, Prodigy has never seemed to be interested in conversing or reaching out to anybody. Plain and simply put, the guy just doesn’t like other people.
At one point or another, everyone feels the unpleasant dynamic of feeling withdrawn or depressed and subsequently being awkwardly juxtaposed next to people having endless amounts of fun. Considering the title of the album, Product of the ’80s, the sex-sweat-dripping hedonism of the decade oozes into the mind. However, considering the quasi-recluse that is Prodigy, the truth is that while the 1980s was a world of neon excess for some, for many within the inner-city, the clutches of crack, Reaganomics and a general polarization of wealthy and poor, made it far from a paradise.
Prodigy’s latest album Product of the ’80s plays on the duality of Prodigy’s misanthropy versus the outgoing world of the ’80s. The cover art features P as well as album co-horts, Un Pacino and Big Twins posting on the infamous intersection of Queen and Bridge. However, the dank landscapes of Queens are barely visible and are sinking under a sunny armada of palm trees and glimmering skies.
Product of the ’80s drops at a time when Prodigy has been sentenced to several years in prison for a crime which he claims he didn’t commit. Having been in a habitually bad mood since Mobb Deep’s debut, Juvenile Hell, Prodigy is now, perhaps uncharacteristically, choosing not to mope but rather has gone on a restless streak of releasing music and posting his candid thoughts onto his blog. Prodigy’s stance in terms of his sentencing is that he was never punished for many of the malevolent things that he did do, therefore, he can deal with being punished for one crime which he did not.
Perhaps Prodigy’s new habit of unfolding the inner workings of his mind have allowed him to mix his brooding imagery of the projects with shades of humor. On “Catch Body Music” he states “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse, I’m so hungry I could drink the horse’s blood” and that’s the new Prodigy: still morose, slightly funny and could care less about the aesthetic pleasure of his lyrics, and hence, he doesn’t even rhyme certain bars. Production-wise Prodigy keeps it minimal, afterall, the guy has a load of ish on his mind and he’s not going to let deep synths overshadow his explications. “Catch Body Music” summons the minimal yet charming sounds reminiscent of classic Nintendo games, but while the bloops may attract memories of joyful X-mas mornings Prodigy spits his gutter rhymes all over innocent recollections. “P Keep Spittin’” is the Queens-rapper’s own odd version of optimism where Prodigy assures us he’ll be fine regardless of what the coming years bring. “Test Tube Babies” hears old buddies sex and violence enjoying some quality time together.
Prodigy has remained distant and disconnected—for better or worse—for the duration of his career. However, Product of the ’80s, similar to the body of his recent work, sees the MC attempt to tie some sense of morality to a reality which up until now, has been relatively dismal.
GZA – Pro Tools
Prodigy – Return of the Mac
Scarface – Untouchable