The Prodigy mural, on 13th Street & 40th Ave, right across from the Queensbridge projects, has been vandalized, yet again. This is the 2nd time that this has happened in the less than 4 days since it was completed. This time, vandals threw red paint across the memorial, which features the artist with arms crossed, flashing his well known “Mobb” “Deep” tattoos.
Less than 24 hours after it was completed, the community awoke last Saturday morning, to find that someone had thrown white paint across the mural. Prodigy, whose real name is Albert Johnson, passed away on June 20th, at the age of 42 from complications said to arising from his lifelong struggles with sickle-cell anemia.
Elements of Style NYC commissioned the painting, stating on their Instagram that it would be a place “Where your [Prodigy’s] family and fans have a place where they can see you and reminisce of the great memories they lived through you and by your side.” Of the Mobb Deep rapper, the mural’s artists, Jeff Henriquez and Eli Lazare, said “His deep and meaningful lyrics inspired and influenced many young rappers and followers.” Unfortunately, it’s apparent that someone did not share those opinions and desires.
The next morning, fans woke up to find the mural had been defaced. While no one seems to know who is responsible, the community didn’t hesitate to get to work restoring it. By Sunday morning, Henriquez confirmed, via Instagram, that the mural had been restored. “THE RESURRECTION. The hood love is strong! 15 hours in one shot to bring back our fallen hip hop general…” Unfortunately, he wasn’t confidence that this restoration would last very long. “Sadly, I expect my wall to get hit again.” And less than a day after completing the restoration, Henriquez was proven right.
But this act of vandalism isn’t the only Hip Hop memorial to have been hit in the past year. Back in November of 2016, a park, renamed to honor late Beastie Boys rapper Adam Yauch, who passed away from Cancer in 2012, was vandalized with Swastikas and pro-Trump graffiti. The defacement seemed to be a stab at Yauch’s Jewish heritage.
Furthermore, a statue of the late Tupac Shakur in Stone Mountain, GA was also vandalized back in 2007, with vague threats against Hip-Hop artists, a noose tied around his neck, and nonsensical messages about 9/11.
Ultimately while, Prodigy’s memorial isn’t the first to be defaced, and unfortunately probably not the last, it’s all the same disrespect. It seems that regardless of the way some in the community may have loved and respected Prodigy, there were others who felt the opposite, even in death. Most shameful is that it seems that the culprit was most likely a member of Prodigy’s own community. And at this point, in a world where few outside of our community truly respect the artists who represent the richness of Hip-Hop history and culture, it’s made worse when we disrespect our own.
No official word has been released as to whether or not they will again restore the mural, and how to prevent further vandalism. However, at this point, the question really is, should they continue to try?