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The Realness

WNYC

When the rapper Prodigy suffered a sickle cell crisis after a Las Vegas concert in 2017, his friends didn’t think much of it at first: they were used to him getting sick. But a few days later, he died. The Realness goes behind Prodigy’s music to reveal his lifelong struggle against his own body, and how that struggle informed his lyrics and fueled his success. The Realness by Only Human is produced by WNYC Studios, a listener-supported producer of leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and On the Media.

When the rapper Prodigy suffered a sickle cell crisis after a Las Vegas concert in 2017, his friends didn’t think much of it at first: they were used to him getting sick. But a few days later, he died. The Realness goes behind Prodigy’s music to reveal his lifelong struggle against his own body, and how that struggle informed his lyrics and fueled his success. The Realness by Only Human is produced by WNYC Studios, a listener-supported producer of leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and On the Media.
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Location:

United States

Networks:

WNYC

Description:

When the rapper Prodigy suffered a sickle cell crisis after a Las Vegas concert in 2017, his friends didn’t think much of it at first: they were used to him getting sick. But a few days later, he died. The Realness goes behind Prodigy’s music to reveal his lifelong struggle against his own body, and how that struggle informed his lyrics and fueled his success. The Realness by Only Human is produced by WNYC Studios, a listener-supported producer of leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and On the Media.

Language:

English


Episodes

Special Broadcast #3: Missing You

11/15/2018
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After Prodigy was locked up on a gun charge, he took a plea deal and was soon headed upstate to prison. But even Prodigy said prison changed him for the better. As the world of hip hop mourns his loss, there are still questions surrounding his death. We try to find answers, and go inside Prodigy’s memorial service to say goodbye to a rap icon. WNYC’s health coverage and The Realness by Only Human is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Jane and Gerald Katcher and...

Duration:00:55:33

Special Broadcast #2: Son, They Shook

11/14/2018
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Someone is shot inside Def Jam. A rap star chases Mobb Deep through Lower Manhattan. And Prodigy convinces a hip hop mogul to sneak weapons into one of New York's most decadent nightclubs. Mobb Deep came up in rap’s golden age. No other group defined the era quite like the duo from Queens. When Prodigy went on trial for violating parole, his lawyer filed over 90 pages of P's medical records in his defense. We found those records buried deep in a Brooklyn courthouse, and they open a window...

Duration:00:54:52

Special Broadcast #1: This Sunny Day Right Here

11/13/2018
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Prodigy and Havoc began laying down rhymes together in high school. When their first album flopped, they came up with a new sound that was directly influenced by Prodigy's lifelong battle with sickle cell anemia, and it helped define a generation of hip hop. As a kid growing up with the disease, Prodigy was told he'd barely make it to adulthood. But the work of doctors, athletes, Hollywood stars and The Black Panthers helped transform his fate. Plus: Big Twins talks about the sickle cell...

Duration:00:55:13

Episode 6: Missing You

8/3/2018
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Prodigy is supposed to fly back home right after a show in Vegas, but he never gets on the plane. As the world of hip hop mourns, there are still questions surrounding his death. We try to find answers, and go inside Prodigy’s memorial service to say goodbye to a rap icon. Explore More: ... You can dig into some amateur recordings of Prodigy’s 2017 performances at Blue Note on YouTube and Instagram. LANGUAGE WARNING: The Realness contains strong language that some listeners may find...

Duration:00:31:16

Episode 5: Go See About the God

7/30/2018
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It's The Alchemist's birthday, but thanks to the NYPD's "Rap Intelligence Unit," he and Prodigy are forced to celebrate in a jail cell, and soon after, P is headed upstate. But even Prodigy says prison changed him for the better. Explore More: ... Dennis Kozlowski, the Tyco CEO who was incarcerated with Prodigy, is now the Chairman of the Board of the Fortune Society. This group works to help incarcerated individuals resume day to day life once they’re out. Check them out. ... People...

Duration:00:32:28

Episode 4: The Most Racist Judge in Nassau County

7/27/2018
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When Prodigy goes on trial for violating parole, his lawyer files over 90 pages of P's medical records in his defense. We find those records buried deep in a Brooklyn courthouse, and they open a window into how Prodigy's body was at war with itself. Explore More: ... Risco Mention-Lewis, the prosecutor we speak to in this episode, is a Deputy Police Comissioner now, but her passion is a project called COTA. You can learn more about what Mention-Lewis is doing in this interview and...

Duration:00:36:26

A "Realness" B-Side: Roxanne Shanté

7/25/2018
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Roxanne Shanté is the queen of Queensbridge rappers. As a teenager in the 1980s, she lyrically demolished all comers. In this B-side outtake, we talk with Roxanne about meeting Prodigy, encouraging Hav to go solo, and how the water in Queensbridge bestowed her with rap superpowers.

Duration:00:19:39

Episode 3: Son, They Shook

7/23/2018
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Someone is shot inside Def Jam. A rap star chases Mobb Deep through Lower Manhattan. And Prodigy convinces a hip hop mogul to sneak weapons into one of New York's most decadent nightclubs. Mobb Deep came up in rap’s golden age. No other group defined the era quite like the duo from Queens. Explore More: ... This interview on NPR's Microphone Check is the first time Ali Shaheed Muhammad talked to Prodigy, in public, about the Def Jam shooting he tells us about in this episode. It's worth a...

Duration:00:24:23

Episode 2: T'Chaka

7/20/2018
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As a kid with sickle cell anemia, Prodigy was told he'd barely make it to adulthood. The work of doctors, athletes, Hollywood stars and The Black Panthers help transform his fate. But what kind of life would he lead? Explore More: ... Keith Wailoo, one of our interview subjects for this episode, wrote a great article summing up the history of sickle cell in this country. Make sure you scroll to see the stunning graph that shows how patients’ life expectancy skyrocketed after the Sickle...

Duration:00:30:45

Episode 1: This Sunny Day Right Here

7/19/2018
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Prodigy and Havoc begin laying down rhymes together in high school. When their first album flops, they come up with a new sound that's directly influenced by P's sickle cell, and it helps define a generation of hip hop. Plus: Big Twins talks about the sickle cell attack he’ll never forget. Explore More: ... One of the interviews we didn’t get a chance to use was this appearance Prodigy made on The Breakfast Club a while back. About 12:40 in, he talks about how sickle cell influenced his...

Duration:00:31:30

Introducing The Realness: The Untold story of Albert “Prodigy” Johnson

7/16/2018
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When the rapper Prodigy suffered a sickle cell crisis after a Las Vegas concert in 2017, his friends didn’t think much of it at first: they were used to him getting sick. But a few days later, he died. The Realness goes behind Prodigy’s music to reveal his lifelong struggle against his own body, and how that struggle informed his lyrics and fueled his success. WNYC’s health coverage and Only Human is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Jane and Gerald Katcher and the...

Duration:00:03:54