By Albert “Prodigy” Johnson with Laura Checkoway
Touchstone, April 2011
Hardcover, 320 pages
From one of the greatest rappers of all time, a memoir about a life almost lost and a revealing look at the dark side of hip hop’s Golden Era . . .
In this often violent but always introspective memoir, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy tells his much anticipated story of struggle, survival, and hope down the mean streets of New York City. For the first time, he gives an intimate look at his family background, his battles with drugs, his life of crime, his relentless suffering with sickle-cell anemia, and much more. Recently released after serving three and a half years in state prison due to what many consider an unlawful arrest by a rumored secret NYPD hip hop task force, Prodigy is ready to talk about his life as one of rap’s greatest legends.
My Infamous Life is an unblinking account of Prodigy’s wild times with Mobb Deep who, alongside rappers like Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, and Wu-Tang Clan, changed the musical landscape with their vivid portrayals of early ’90s street life. It is a firsthand chronicle of legendary rap feuds like the East Coast–West Coast rivalry; Prodigy’s beefs with Jay-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Ja Rule, and Capone-N-Noreaga; and run-ins with prodigal hit makers and managers like Puff Daddy, Russell Simmons, Chris Lighty, Irv Gotti, and Lyor Cohen.
Taking the reader behind the smoke-and-mirrors glamour of the hip hop world, so often seen as the only way out for those with few options, Prodigy lays down the truth about the intoxicating power of money, the meaning of true friendship and loyalty, and the ultimately redemptive power of self. This is the heartbreaking journey of a child born in privilege, his youth spent among music royalty like Diana Ross and Dizzy Gillespie, educated in private schools, until a family tragedy changed everything. Raised in the mayhem of the Queensbridge projects, Prodigy rose to the dizzying heights of fame and eventually fell into the darkness of a prison cell.
I generally don’t read rap autobiographies, but I have to say that Prodigy’s view into his life as one of the high ranking rappers in the game was a bit different from the pompous, self-glorifying stories I’ve come accustomed to hearing.
Straight, and to the point, Albert Johnson (Prodigy) takes you on a tour of his rise to fame and his fall from grace of the rap world during the nineties. From Jay Z to Lindsey Lohan, you find that no matter where come from you can rub elbows with people from all walks of life, and bump heads with a lot of them.
If you’re a fan of Mobb Deep, you’ll enjoy this true-life, story told and seen through the eyes of Albert “Prodigy” Johnson.