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Sunday
Jan142018

Taking The Trash Into Account - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: People.com

“People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised
when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them,
poisoned.” 


- James Baldwin

 

It's the fourteenth day of 2018. And the President of The United
States has openly re-affirmed that he is indeed, an unabashed 
racist. This is due in part to the publication by the Washington Post
of remarks he made to four sitting senators regarding Haiti in a 
discussion concerning immigration reform. Trump went on to then
ask why should we be concerned about those from "shithole" countries
and why the U.S. can't seek out expats from countries like Norway.
Dick Durbin, the Senator from Illinois went on to confirm the reports
hours later. Lindsey Graham offered a tepid comment that danced
around the issue. The other two senators flatly stated that "they
didn't recall" the euphemism being used.

It seems to be an almost hourly basis where The Crass Ass In Chief
is tied to or the direct cause of some form of disgrace that chips 
away at the very foundations that America has built herself on. This
situation didn't surprise me a bit. I've grown up always regarding 
Trump as a racist - I grew up in New York City seeing his ascent and
how media then treated the racism as "just being colorful". Calling 
Haiti and the entirety of the African continent (once again reinforcing
his stupidity by lumping all of those nations into one country) what
he did is something he probably does at least once a day. It's part of
why he got elected. It isn't a new thing to those who knew and know
better. Racism in the Oval Office also isn't a new thing, from George 
Washington to Andrew Jackson to Woodrow Wilson to Ronald Reagan.
What has people shocked is that the prism of coded political language,
has now been shattered into pieces. And the timing of it was particularly
cruel. He made these comments the day before Haiti marked a painful
anniversary of the devastating earthquake that ravaged the country back
in 2010. He was in the midst of working on a speech to commemorate 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A speech that went on the following day as 
he was surrounded by Ben Carson and other assorted Black hangers-on,
most notably the preacher Darrell Scott. Someone who looks more like
a failed 112 cover band singer than anyone of substance who made the
attempt to silence April D. Ryan, the veteran White House Correspondent
when she directly asked Trump if he was a racist.

I am not going to go into a mode of defending the esteemed nation of 
Haiti or any of the nations of the African Union that this man has offended
with their comments, because their legacy has and will stand forth longer
than this orange strain of verbal diarrhea that currently sits in the Oval 
Office for the moment. Their dignity should not be exalted only as a default
to callous racism but all the time. 


But on this weekend, a weekend that is designated to celebrate the life and
legacy of one of this nation's greatest people - a man who I sometimes ask
if this country even deserved at times - something like this should highlight
exactly why Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many other men and women spoke
out, resisted and gave their lives for. To eradicate such thinking, to live up to
the ideals of a nation and of humanity on a whole. Fifty years after Dr. King 
was gunned down on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee we are still dealing
with the internal wounds that the unique cancer of American racism. The shit that
still dangles from various parts of this society. Dr. King died while lending his
voice to those participating in a sanitation strike in Memphis, men whose job
it is to dispose of trash. And yet, the trash that racism and bigotry in all of its
forms is - still lingers and is on a resurgent wave thanks in part to Trump and
those behind him. Because he is just the figurehead. There's a lot of people 
out there who in some form or fashion espouse what he said. People who at 
times hide behind pictures of animals or go to lengths to create fake profiles
on websites to hurl verbal filth at others online. And those who don't. 

There are a lot of people who will use this weekend to issue quotations from 
MLK because they believe in what he stood for. But there are also a great deal
of people - white people - who will not deign to look at MLK's entire philosophy
because he spoke plainly to white moderates who wouldn't truly confront their
burden of acknowledging and dismantling white supremacy. (This also applies
to the scant margin of people of color who search for cookies from this system
too, by the way. Looking at you "Pastor" Mark Burns.) This weekend cannot and
should not only be a "kumbaya" moment to feel better. It should be a weekend
to honor what one person sacrificed, and to move towards recognizing that the 
fight isn't over. We have an overt racist in the White House, who is supported by
a political party who shares some if not all of his ideals no matter how many 
statements they issue. All you have to do is look at how they voted this past year
to confirm this. And they in turn still have a base of citizens who will cheer such
ugliness on - until they realize it cannot distract from their healthcare being taken
away along with their jobs. 45 using the word "shithole" isn't the issue. The racism
that is being reinserted into goverment policy, the racism that is prevalent in the
abject neglect of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, is. The racism that lifted 
Donald Trump into this position both here and in other parts of the world that 
subscribe to white nationalism, is. We're only in the second year of this administration.
It has the potential to be worse, but it can be beaten back as long as we move 
past the knee-jerk outrage and use that to better combat the policies and those 
lackeys trying to carry them out. 

The thing about shit is, only the ones who revel and wallow in it are the ones 
who will find it harder to remove from their flesh and their character. All 45 did
was reveal how permanent that stench will be.

It's on the rest of us who refuse to be tainted by that filth to work towards 
keeping it out of our hearts and our spirits any way we can. That's what Dr. King
did. That's what some other people who wallow in it need to learn.

Friday
Sep222017

Let The Ladies Eat - Chris "Preach" Smith

 

Photo Credits: (Top)Ozy.com, (Bottom) Miami.com

 

Maybe it's not in vogue to acutally have a nuanced position like this,
but here goes...lean in closer. Ready?

Cardi B AND Rapsody are hip-hop. You can like one or the other, or 
you can enjoy what both bring to the table. You can root for them 
both to win.

Rap music is an art form that does tend to lend itself to a kind of binary
struggle. It's the art of battle that's embedded within, going all the 
way back to the park jams that helped give birth to the culture be it 
the DJ's or the MC's. And while its mainly been male-dominated, women
from Roxanne Shante to Sha Rock to Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott 
and all those in between have made their mark on the culture. For 
Rapsody and Cardi B, they're both poised to do the same from paths
that vary wildly but have the same amount of the grind in them. Cardi
B has drawn a lot of attention thanks in part to her role on VH1's "Love
and Hip Hop" series that has given birth to a thousand memes and has
propelled her to create a mixtape with a smash single, "Bodak Yellow".
The Bronx, New York native is now celebrated highly, which has gotten
her some detractors. (More on that in a bit.) Rapsody has been on the
underground scene for years as an MC down with fellow North Carolina
native 9th Wonder and the Justice League crew. Beasting on guest verse
appearances on albums by Von Pea and Kendrick Lamar among many
others, Rapsody has dropped a couple of mixtapes that have only boosted
her visibility. This has led to her dropping her latest album, Laila's Wisdom,
under the umbrella of Roc Nation. But to some, there's something that she
lacks that in their view has led to her not blowing up in a major way.

Part of the drama that comes up when discussing something like this is
the mainstream versus "backpacker" comparison and contrast that takes
place. Cardi came up using a keen strategy of videos that showed off her
personality and her rhymes while she was working as a stripper, and this
led to her TV appearances. So heads will look at her and essentially say,
"well, she's the chosen one" following in the line of Nicki Minaj in terms of
that kind of visibility. Rapsody has gotten acclaim from those seeking an
alternative to contemporary rap music, but some of those fans have chafed
at her growing prominence, even criticizing that she might be mimicking 
Kendrick and other rappers from the TDE crew. Another part of the drama
does stem from an ugly perspective that's still ingrained in rap culture, and
that is colorism. Controversial rapper Azaelia Banks made some comments
via social media going after Cardi B, basically claiming that she has only
made it because she's Latina and men tend to put non-Black women in rap
on a pedastal in the industry. Cardi B clapped back, and Azaelia doubled 
down before deleting her initial comments online using her past as an exotic
dancer against her. Now, there is truth to the way that dudes in the industry
and in general do tend to belittle Black women by valuing Latinas and other
women over them in various ways. Part of that could apply to certain industry
forces when it comes to Cardi B. But those truths don't fully diminish her 
own work to get to this point. And she's a bit more cognizant of it than 
others would expect. As for Rapsody, it's not farfetched to say colorism has
played a part in her struggles - being a dark-skinned woman in rap does 
come with that uneasy truth with regards to corporate labels and their own
practices of promotion. Add that to being a rapper who has made her bones
in the underground and having that being a strike against you for the casual
fans and those who want everything new only in the veins of pop culture. 
Rapsody herself has commented on it at length.

These two women right now are part of a new wave of rap music that has 
ties to the Golden Era, but represent newer and more strident voices that 
the music and the culture needs. Some may throw shots at Cardi B because
they feel her lyrics aren't overly complex and geared towards getting it on
and popping in clubs. Rapsody may have critics because they feel she should
"stay in her lane" and not challenge male MC's like Drake. Sometimes folks
conflate critique with out and out disdain. That's just the way it is. Ultimately,
Rapsody and Cardi B are building on the successes other women MC's before
them have laid down and creating newer lanes for those alongside and coming
up after them. Let these ladies eat. We've got women MC's in a new light that
isn't totally about being a sex object for dudes or any other restrictive box 
that we find ourselves bringing up whenever this subject arises. If we're at
all serious about the culture of hip-hop, this multifaceted wave is all part of
the nature of the culture and should be respected as such.

Wednesday
Sep062017

For The Red, White & Bruised - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: Getty Images

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge
to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at
whatever cost.” 

- Arthur Ashe



The 2017-2018 NFL regular season starts tomorrow. And Colin Kaepernick, the 
former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, is without a team. He has become
the center of a roiling and furious debate ever since he first sat down, then took
a knee as the National Anthem played before games last season. Kaepernick did
so as his form of protest against the continued shootings of Black people by law
enforcement officials across the nation and the inequality inflicted on people of 
color in general. Other players, most notably Michael Bennett of the Seattle 
Seahawks and Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles among them, also 
began to protest in solidarity with him on these issues. Months later, the protests
and the debate continues. Without Kaepernick, who is the likely target of a silent
but concentrated blackballing effort by ownership in the National Football League.
Not unlike the "gentleman's agreement" that existed in Major League Baseball under 
then Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis that barred Black players until Jackie
Robinson's breaking of the color line in 1947. 

Of course, this is the part where someone out there will chime in to claim that this
isn't true. I've heard all of the arguments exhausted and taken apart. There's the 
camp that says he isn't THAT good. He's four years removed from taking the Niners
to the Super Bowl. Look at the slew of QB's who have been chosen by teams across
the league to start or play backup in comparison. Brock Osweiler, who went to the
Houston Texans and got traded with a draft pick a YEAR LATER to the Cleveland 
Browns, who then cut him a few days ago, goes back to the Denver Broncos. Jay
Cutler
, who was retired and was all set to be in the broadcast booth, gets a fresh
new contract with the Miami Dolphins. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who Jets fans were mortified
at after a season last year that included lowlights not seen since Mark Sanchez(who
by the way is backing up Dak Prescott in Dallas), has a gig in Tampa Bay. Given the
recycling bin that the position can be in the NFL, for Kaepernick to not even get a 
tryout is amazing. Then there's the argument that he was asking for too much money.
When no one could get exact statements from credible sources to support that point,
then they pointed to his girlfriend - a recent example of it being used by former 
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Mainly because of a tweet she directed at him.
I've had discussions with a couple of cats who say that if he only spoke up, that it 
could possibly help him get a tryout. Kaep has already stated that he would not be
kneeling in protest this season if he were to be picked up by a team. So there is 
really nothing standing in the way of him being looked at for consideration.

Nothing except the fact that he has effectively revealed the still-embedded hypocrisy
that surrounds sports and politics in that they are separate entities.

"If you destroyed the underpinnings of this great American sport,
you are a hated, ugly, detestable person."

- Curt Flood


To me, the proof that Kaepernick's position is right lies in the rising amount of anger
and defensiveness that exists on the part of the detractors looking to keep things the
way they are. They do this because they benefit from things remaining the way they
are. Look at Ray Lewis. This is someone who basically got a second chance after pleading
guilty
to an obstruction of justice charge related to a crime of double murder in 2000
after a Super Bowl party in Atlanta, Georgia. He's now someone who has fixed himself
as a man of God, and an inspirational figure. But he's also now seen as someone who
the Ravens organization will put out there as media cannon fodder when it comes to
Kaepernick. Another person who is looking to make his bread off of this while within
the system is Jason Whitlock, sports writer and host of "Speak For Yourself" on Fox
Sports One who has essentially made himself the Shelby Steele of Black sports media
figures with his respectability politics that reek of servitude. It seems like he has a 
personal score against Kaepernick to the point of airing a skit on his show yesterday
that mocked the quarterback - apparently with the help of Kid of the iconic rap duo 
Kid N Play. Whitlock has himself been under fire for his behavior which led to his parting
of ways with ESPN. But this marks a new low, one that essentially spits in the face of
all who came before him across the Civil Rights spectrum. The protests Kaepernick helped
to initiate have even made some members of the Cleveland police union and the EMS union
publicly state they will not participate in the pregame activities before the Browns' 
season opener. Add these voices to the rabble online that throw out shots at Kaep in
expletive-laden social media posts (with some dubious spelling errors) in the name of
patriotism and yell "stick to sports" and it goes to show that a nerve has been struck.
The quote above by Curt Flood brings that truth home. A cross-section of the American 
public throughout history has never wanted to confront the ugly truths that sports can
obscure. Yet without the merging of sports and politics, some of what makes this nation
great would not exist. Think about Curt Flood. He fought against being traded by the St.
Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies because he felt that the owners of baseball
were treating players like chattel instead of like valued athletes. He lost his career, but 
in the process opened up the free agency era that today's athlete would be lost without.
Kaepernick seems poised to walk down that same road - his charitable efforts have been
constant and widespread. 

There's been a good amount of protest on his behalf, and there's a certain number of people
and groups that plan to boycott this NFL season. The NFL is the dominant sport in the 
country because of TV ratings. It's not a good look at all - especially for a league that is
now beset with issues of former and current players dealing with trauma after the steady
amount of collisions, and an epidemic within some of its players that focuses on domestic
violence. Kaepernick's crime seems to have been offending veterans, if you look at the 
more reasoned opposition to his protest. But a number of vets have commended him for
his stance and support him. 

Kaepernick has found himself as a key figure among the red, white and bruised who are
athletes. One of my friends disparaged him, feeling that "someone" was behind him taking
these stances. The conspiracy theory is always the tool of deflection used by those who 
are either weak themselves or cannot develop effective critical thinking. This is someone
who prior to his rise in the NFL, was derided for having tattoos that made him seem like
a "thug". Kaepernick didn't set out to be a hero. He set out to speak his mind and use his
platform to do something good for people, to make a change. The thing about change is,
there will always be those against it as it takes place. He just has to take those lumps as 
he's now out of the pocket of protection that an athlete's salary and status affords him as
long as he sticks to the script.

For that willingness to do so, to adhere to the tenets this nation reveres - he's already 
got his champion status.

 

Sunday
Jul232017

Squeezing More Out Of The Juice - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: ABC News

Last Thursday afternoon, I tried to avoid it.

The parole hearing of the disgraced NFL legend O.J. Simpson
was last Thursday. You couldn't help but hear about it thanks 
to ESPN and other networks touting this as "must-see TV". 
Simpson was serving a 33 year sentence for his role in being
the mastermind of a botched robbery in a Las Vegas hotel -
a robbery that was an attempt to get personal items and
memorabilia that he was advised was stolen from him. He had
served nine years of that sentence. The days before the hearing,
I began to see how other media outlets were preparing themselves
for the airing of the parole hearing. And I have to say, while
it irked me, it isn't a surprise. And when the board made the 
decision to grant him parole, releasing him in October...I knew
it would only get more people in a frenzy.

One of the open secrets that exists about America that O.J.
represents is that we are still undoubtedly all-day suckers for
sensationalism, no matter if its delivered in a slick package
or doled out in a crude manner like miniature alcohol bottles
from a cardboard box in the back of an SUV. And the media
outlets of this nation know it. They were laying groundwork
for interest in subtle ways at least a month beforehand. How?
Well, A&E Network began showing the highly regarded five-part
documentary "O.J.:Made In America" about 2 weeks prior. 
Other networks began showing their O.J. programs, mainly 
centered around the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown
Simpson and Ron Goldman. Articles were springing up about
O.J. How he stood to make a couple of million if paroled. How
he was conducting himself in prison. Last Thursday, I was 
working with the TV on in the background as I sometimes do
and I was flipping to avoid channels that had it on. I wound
up settling for an airing of a daytime judge show. I saw the 
social media flurry of activity once the decision was made. I
turned to one network to hear the analyst reaction and got 
what I was expecting - disappointment that Simpson got freed
and in the case of one particular analyst, outrage. 

Which leads me to this - another open secret that O.J.'s parole
hearing unveiled is that of race and privilege and how once 
again, he managed to buck the system. I still believe that a 
good deal of the ire against Simpson dating all the way back
to 1995 when he was acquitted in the murder trial is that by
the letter of the law, he got off. "This Negro got away!!" is what
still swims in the maudlin swamps some out there have for 
brains. In an ironic manner, the other news story that WASN'T
stemming from the White House? The story of a white Australian
woman who was a yoga teacher in Minneapolis being shot and
killed by a Black police officer after requesting help. A story that
has played out in recent years repeatedly, but with the ethnicities
of those involved reversed. And in the days since, we've seen
the police chief RESIGN over it and calls for the mayor to step
down along with an uproar from those who previously were 
so pro-law enforcement that they stooped to thoroughly demean
all of those who lost their lives at the hands of inept cops as "thugs"
and "deserving it" because of the color of their skin. O.J. getting
parole angers them in the same way. Color is the main denominator.

Let's make one thing clear - I'm not someone who is going out
of his way to defend The Juice. I do think he's done some really
reprehensible things, and has put himself in a position that has 
hurt a great many people all for his own ego. But last Thursday
reaffirmed to me that there's still a market for the kind of fame
that surrounds O.J. I mean, one of the better & albeit controversial
songs from Jay-Z's most recent album 4:44 has him as a central
point. The media at large, and O.J. himself, understands that 
there is still a lot left to be made from his existence in the public
eye. They dug up Kato Kaelin again for heaven's sakes. I know 
that one of my boys who worked on the ESPN doc has already
stated publicly that he hopes O.J. just sticks to the shadows. I 
don't think that will happen only because he, like a certain 
orange-tinted figure in politics, needs this attention. They've had
the fame either through adulation or disgust for so long that they
don't know how to operate without it. They confuse it with love &
validation from early on and it sticks. And there are always people
willing to feed into it. The last six months of this nation is a testament
to how that can backfire. But O.J. will still be willing to feel the 
squeeze as long as it gets him fame and the benefits once more.
But what about the other stuff that gets left behind as a result?

That's a question that goes beyond sound bites and half-hour 
televised debates.

 

Tuesday
Jun202017

Prodigy Moves On - Chris "Preach" Smith

Photo Credit: CNN

Ayo I break bread, ribs, hundred dollar bills
peel on Ducatis and other four wheels
trite a book full of medicine and generate mills
tour the album, only for more sales

- Prodigy, "Keep It Thoro"


Yesterday, one half of the most formidable and forever respected
rap duos ever passed away. Prodigy. The H.N.I.C. The news hit 
many people hard due to the absolute abruptness of it. Like a
lot of situations these days, I had seen a report crawl across my
Twitter feed. I voiced my concerns and had 2 people immediately
respond. In the midst of that, I saw I had a missed phone call.
It was one of my old hangout partners from high school who 
has ties to that Queensbridge set. He confirmed the bad news.
Prodigy...gone. Only 42. The shock hit many of his fellow MC's
and got a lot of people quoting his lyrics. I was no different, 
choosing his opening lines from one of my favorite tracks from
The Infamous and an unofficial anthem for those who rep the
borough of Queens, "Give Up The Goods(Just Step)". As the rest
of the day unfolded, I started thinking about how much P had 
given to rap. And what that meant in the long run.

To those who came up in the borough of Queens as he and Havoc
set out on their careers, Prodigy was one of those dudes who
had a pipeline to greatness laid out. I hadn't realized that he 
had even been on the Boyz In The Hood soundtrack and that 
he had a deal with Jive Records until a few years ago. The first
recollection we had around the way goes back to when they 
first dropped as Mobb Deep with Juvenile Hell. Some weren't 
really checking for it, the only ads being those orange posters
featuring anime-like drawings of Hav and P with sickles that 
were posted in the windows of a dance school off Jamaica Ave.
The school belonged to Prodigy's grandmother (more on that 
in a bit). As a matter of fact most don't even recall that album
except for that one single "Hit It From The Back", which was
meant to be a house party grinding single. At least it was for
those who threw cut parties from school back in the day. So 
when the spring of 1995 rolled around, when The Infamous 
dropped - the shell shock of how gritty it was, how good it was,
how 'hood it was - knocked everybody out of their kicks. You
couldn't go anywhere without hearing that album. It was a 
universal joint. Imagine rolling past a park and hearing "The 
Start of Your Ending" out of the subwoofers someone installed
in their Nissan Pathfinder with the smell of nature in the air 
as you avoided stepping on empty fifth bottles of E&J on the
sidewalk. Or seeing at least one group of cats with a portable
boombox bumping "Give Up The Goods" no matter what 'hood
you happened to be in. That album helped define the NYC sound
in the mid '90's and put Prodigy front and center. It brought the
borough together on a whole - when I came up you still had a
bit of animosity between 'hoods. Jamaica Avenue was and is a
major thoroughfare for the meeting of northern and southern
Queens and at times it could lead to brawls and other situations
which I saw more of during high school back then and way less
of now. 


I got reminded by my boy Ty who I built with as I set out to
write this that at that time, there was a sentiment that he was
positioning himself to be viewed as one of the greatest all-time
lyricists. Even on fellow Queensbridge representative Nas' level,
and that's saying a lot. But in that time period from 1995 until
2000, it wasn't too much of a stretch. You had The Infamous.
Then Hell On Earth. Then Murda Muzik which I had heard about
2 different bootlegged versions of before it finally dropped. And
then H.N.I.C. That's a serious amount of good music in a five-year
stretch. That's not even taking into consideration his guest verses.
Joints like LL Cool J's "I Shot Ya" remix. "The Game" off of Pete
Rock's Soul Survivor album. "Hold You Down" with Nina Sky and
The Alchemist. Hell, even his last guest verse on AZ's "Save Them"
had some heat. Personal faves? His verse on "Back At You" from
the Sunset Park soundtrack and the leadoff verse on NBA Hall of
Famer and rapper Shaquille O'Neal's "Legal Money" track. P had some
bangers. Did he have a period where his skills had slipped? Yeah.
It's not uncommon for rappers to go into a zone where their skills
are at odds with the change in the tonal landscape of rap. You either
stay in your lane or you evolve to make your lane bigger. I would say
that he did the latter with Return Of The Mac in 2007 with The Alchemist,
which was the last joint he did before going in for a three-year bid for
possession of an illegal firearm. 

Prodigy appealed to a lot of people because of the fact that you
knew that he was a fighter. Willing to go toe to toe with cats on
the mic and off. Unabashed with his opinions. Think about this -
he and Havoc were on the front lines of the East Coast/West Coast
beef, to the point that 2Pac straight up talked trash about Prodigy
having sickle cell anemia. Prodigy was unfzaed - he ran up against
the Def Squad and Keith Murray in particular calling their raps "space
shit". His beef with Jay-Z is legendary for the fact that Hov got the
last laugh by throwing pictures of Prodigy from the old days at his
grandmother's dance school - the same one from the Ave - up on
the screen during a Summer Jam appearance at the height of the
beef. (It wasn't exactly a major revelation to those from Queens -
another of the homies had a sister who went to the same school.)
Through it all though, Prodigy was still someone who was going to
stand up and hold his own. 


The underlying effect of it all is that Prodigy had been fighting and
beating the odds for a long time on another level. Living with sickle
cell is something that one out of 500 African-Americans have to deal
with currently. There is no cure, although the debilitating effects of
it can be lessened due to lifestyle changes. When Prodigy went in
for his bid, it was a life-changing moment. He wound up using that
experience to teach himself how to eat better. And the man actually
wound up putting together a cookbook out of that that got major
acclaim. Hell, my own family members asked me about it when it 
dropped. He became part of the growing wave of voices that you can
say were mentors when it came to hip-hop and health at a time 
where it was needed which also includes The LOX, dead prez and
others. It added another level of luster to his legacy. And it's one 
part we may need to focus on more in the wake of his passing, since
all signs point to the crisis that eventually claimed him being brought
about by both the rigors of the road and the extreme heat he had 
to endure at his last ever performance in Las Vegas, Nevada as part
of The Art of Rap tour. Temperatures were registered at around 115
degrees. To the end, he was committed to rocking the crowd and 
must've fought through the onset of it all until he couldn't anymore.

Photo Credit: Supra

Above all, I think the best way to remember Prodigy is through
the spirit he brought to the rap game and the world. A spirit of
matter-of-fact realism, keen observational intellect and a limber
lyricism that reminds you of a skillful combination laid out by a 
middleweight champion boxer in his prime. Was he among the
best rappers lyrically in the game? Debatable at best. Was he among
the most respected? Undoubtedly. Folks will drink away the pain but
be glad that his music and his spirit will remain part of the culture.
Salute to Prodigy, Queensbridge's own and a true H.N.I.C.