Prodigy’s 25th Hour

A Queens rap icon scrambles to prepare for life on the inside

Prodigy called the following day to express his happiness about the extra time. He was at home, watching himself being interviewed on BET's Rap City. But there was something defensive in his tone. To keep up his tough-guy image, Prodigy had told the press that the judge gave him more time to finish his album and videos, though it had been reported that his sickness was the reason for his temporary reprieve. But Prodigy says he isn't afraid of prison, much less mortality. "I'm not scared to die, I've dealt with enough," he says. "I feel like my life is gonna be short anyway because of my sickle-cell."

And though diving into his music has been therapeutic, it's his sickle-cell anemia—the very thing that's caused Prodigy so much pain, landing him in the hospital six times a year, on average, since being diagnosed at eight months old—that's now helping to ease another affliction. It prepared him to get through five more weeks of an agonizing countdown, as well as the strength of character to make it through the time after the wait.

Albert "Prodigy" Johnson is facing three and a half years for gun possession.
Chad Griffith
Albert "Prodigy" Johnson is facing three and a half years for gun possession.


On February 13, Prodigy's imprisonment was delayed again: Lawyer Cohen says Prodigy suffered a sickle-cell crisis, which is triggered by stress, and after receiving a doctor's note, the judge moved the date back to February 20. "He's in pain, and their concerns are that he may have to have a hip replacement," Cohen tells me—Prodigy's other hip was replaced last year. "He's a sick guy."
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