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The Realness

WNYC Studios

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Followers
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The Realness

The Realness

WNYC Studios

19
Followers
1
Plays
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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.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.

Latest Episodes

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

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 Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Thanks also to the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism.

3 MIN2018 JUL 17
Comments
Introducing The Realness: The Untold story of Albert “Prodigy” Johnson

This Sunny Day Right Here

Prodigy and Havoc first 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 defines a generation of hip hop. Plus: Big Twins talks about the sickle cell attack he’ll never forget. 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.

30 MIN2018 JUL 20
Comments
This Sunny Day Right Here

T'Chaka

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, wrotea 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 Cell Control Act. ... Prodigy’s childhood physician, Dr. Francis, loved reading the New York Times. And when she died, they wrote her a loving obituary. ... After getting out of prison, Prodigy started opening up about his childhood struggle with sickle cell. In this speech at Riverside Church, P talks about his teenage suicide attempt and how therapy helped him. P talking about his teenage suicide attempt and more at Riverside Church. ... But Prodigy’s childhood wasn’t all pain. After spending yea...

29 MIN2018 JUL 21
Comments
T'Chaka

Son, They Shook

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 onNPR's Microphone Check is the first timeAli Shaheed Muhammad talked to Prodigy, in public, about the Def Jam shooting he tells us about in this episode. It's worth a listen. ... Right after Prodigy died, Havoc didthis really interesting interview with Mass Appeal. He talks about what P was like in the early days - and how Hav was constantly warning Prodigy about carrying guns around with him. ... This article about The Tunnel is a must-read. When you're done with that, check out this list of top "Tunnel Bangers": there are plenty of Mobb Deep tunes on there. LANGUAGE WARNING:The Realnesscontains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. WNYC’s healt...

23 MIN2018 JUL 24
Comments
Son, They Shook

A "Realness" B-Side: Roxanne Shanté

RoxanneShanté 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.

18 MIN2018 JUL 26
Comments
A "Realness" B-Side: Roxanne Shanté

The Most Racist Judge in Nassau County

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 prosecutorwe 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 video. LANGUAGE WARNING:The Realnesscontains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. 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 the Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Audio of Prodigy onQuestlove Supremeis provided by Pandora, which also has a recording of Mobb Deep's classic hit "Shook Ones (Part II)" perform...

35 MIN2018 JUL 28
Comments
The Most Racist Judge in Nassau County

Go See About the God

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 who oversee New York’s prisons think they know why healthcare inside may be subpar: there aren’t enough caregivers. Jack Beck, a representative from the Correctional Association of New York, which helps oversee the prisons,testified in 2017 that many prison healthcare jobs were vacant. ... Being incarcerated didn’t stop Prodigy from making music. This song was recorded while P was inside. In it, he gives a shout out to King Benny, who visited him every weekend. LANGUAGE WARNING:The Realnesscontains s...

31 MIN2018 JUL 31
Comments
Go See About the God

Missing You

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. Wetry to find answers, and go inside Prodigy’s memorial service to say goodbye to arap icon. Explore More: ... You can dig into some amateur recordings of Prodigy’s 2017 performances at Blue Note onYouTube and Instagram. LANGUAGE WARNING:The Realnesscontains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. 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 the Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

29 MIN2018 AUG 4
Comments
Missing You

Who Killed Conscious Rap? Find Out on 'The Stakes'

Drug wars, recessions and record violence in the 1980s had US cities in crisis. Hip hop artists responded by shifting from party music to a new style called "conscious rap." Artists like Public Enemy and Digable Planets championed a sound that was political, community-minded and deeply pro-black. But about six years after it started, that first wave of socially-conscious hip hop seemed to be over.Christopher Johnsonjoins hostKai Wrightto find out what happenedon the new podcastThe Stakes.

25 MIN2019 MAY 22
Comments
Who Killed Conscious Rap? Find Out on 'The Stakes'
the END

Latest Episodes

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

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 Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Thanks also to the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism.

3 MIN2018 JUL 17
Comments
Introducing The Realness: The Untold story of Albert “Prodigy” Johnson

This Sunny Day Right Here

Prodigy and Havoc first 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 defines a generation of hip hop. Plus: Big Twins talks about the sickle cell attack he’ll never forget. 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.

30 MIN2018 JUL 20
Comments
This Sunny Day Right Here

T'Chaka

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, wrotea 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 Cell Control Act. ... Prodigy’s childhood physician, Dr. Francis, loved reading the New York Times. And when she died, they wrote her a loving obituary. ... After getting out of prison, Prodigy started opening up about his childhood struggle with sickle cell. In this speech at Riverside Church, P talks about his teenage suicide attempt and how therapy helped him. P talking about his teenage suicide attempt and more at Riverside Church. ... But Prodigy’s childhood wasn’t all pain. After spending yea...

29 MIN2018 JUL 21
Comments
T'Chaka

Son, They Shook

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 onNPR's Microphone Check is the first timeAli Shaheed Muhammad talked to Prodigy, in public, about the Def Jam shooting he tells us about in this episode. It's worth a listen. ... Right after Prodigy died, Havoc didthis really interesting interview with Mass Appeal. He talks about what P was like in the early days - and how Hav was constantly warning Prodigy about carrying guns around with him. ... This article about The Tunnel is a must-read. When you're done with that, check out this list of top "Tunnel Bangers": there are plenty of Mobb Deep tunes on there. LANGUAGE WARNING:The Realnesscontains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. WNYC’s healt...

23 MIN2018 JUL 24
Comments
Son, They Shook

A "Realness" B-Side: Roxanne Shanté

RoxanneShanté 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.

18 MIN2018 JUL 26
Comments
A "Realness" B-Side: Roxanne Shanté

The Most Racist Judge in Nassau County

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 prosecutorwe 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 video. LANGUAGE WARNING:The Realnesscontains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. 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 the Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Audio of Prodigy onQuestlove Supremeis provided by Pandora, which also has a recording of Mobb Deep's classic hit "Shook Ones (Part II)" perform...

35 MIN2018 JUL 28
Comments
The Most Racist Judge in Nassau County

Go See About the God

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 who oversee New York’s prisons think they know why healthcare inside may be subpar: there aren’t enough caregivers. Jack Beck, a representative from the Correctional Association of New York, which helps oversee the prisons,testified in 2017 that many prison healthcare jobs were vacant. ... Being incarcerated didn’t stop Prodigy from making music. This song was recorded while P was inside. In it, he gives a shout out to King Benny, who visited him every weekend. LANGUAGE WARNING:The Realnesscontains s...

31 MIN2018 JUL 31
Comments
Go See About the God

Missing You

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. Wetry to find answers, and go inside Prodigy’s memorial service to say goodbye to arap icon. Explore More: ... You can dig into some amateur recordings of Prodigy’s 2017 performances at Blue Note onYouTube and Instagram. LANGUAGE WARNING:The Realnesscontains strong language that some listeners may find offensive. 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 the Katcher Family Foundation, Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

29 MIN2018 AUG 4
Comments
Missing You

Who Killed Conscious Rap? Find Out on 'The Stakes'

Drug wars, recessions and record violence in the 1980s had US cities in crisis. Hip hop artists responded by shifting from party music to a new style called "conscious rap." Artists like Public Enemy and Digable Planets championed a sound that was political, community-minded and deeply pro-black. But about six years after it started, that first wave of socially-conscious hip hop seemed to be over.Christopher Johnsonjoins hostKai Wrightto find out what happenedon the new podcastThe Stakes.

25 MIN2019 MAY 22
Comments
Who Killed Conscious Rap? Find Out on 'The Stakes'
the END
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