Albert “Prodigy” Johnson is best known for being one-half of Mobb Deep, Queens rap legends whose hellish classics still inspire fierce devotion. Which is to say that Prodigy is beloved and carefully studied by many, though he is not Jay-Z or Biggie or 2Pac, figures so adored that books and biopics, authorized and otherwise, were inevitable. Prodigy has enjoyed a steady run of gold records, but he’s hardly in the strata of Keith Richards or Patti Smith, who’ve taken sabbaticals longer than Mobb Deep’s classic stretch in the mid-1990s. Johnson thus makes for an unlikely memoirist, but his recently released My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy, which he mapped out while in prison for a gun possession charge, is a surprising triumph, both as an archive of 1990s New York hip-hop folk tales and for its stirring sketches of a man who, on many occasions, could have made his life a lot easier on himself. The best way to experience Johnson’s epic, if meandering, journey: his audio book, which is among the most riveting recordings any rapper will release this year, or any year…

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