it into one of the top dance companies [the Bernice Johnson Dance School] in the world next to Alvin Alley. She was a strong-minded, strong-willed woman. All her friends called her the H.N.I.C., and they gave her a mug with those letters on it for her birthday. When I was a little kid, I use to ask her what that meant. She told me the history of how racists would call a successful Black person the H.N.I.C. It stuck with me, and as I got older, I knew I wanted to name my album that.
EBONY: The street-lit genre continues to grow massively, and these books are landing on best-seller lists. What are your thoughts on those who think these writers aren’t serious and these books reinforce stereotypes?
Prodigy: You shouldn’t look down on a book or a writer ’cause they chose to write about the streets. That doesn’t mean every one of these street-lit books is good. Just like not every book about any other subject is good. Not everybody who picks up a pen is a good writer. That doesn’t mean the whole street-lit game is terrible. If I like to write and have that talent, why can’t I write about what I’m experiencing and seeing? Unfortunately, some people only experience crime and violence. If you’re not from that world, you may not be able to relate and your opinion doesn’t matter, really.
EBONY: These subjects introduce reading to a demographic of people who may never have picked up a book.
Prodigy: I meet a lot of mothers that come up to me and say, “my son started reading because of your book,” and that hit home for me. I remember the first book I read that my mom gave to me was Malcom X’s autobiography. I was interested because it was his life and that got me into reading. I wasn’t interested in reading before that. I could understand how kids get excited to read my books, if they are into Mobb Deep’s music. That’s a blessing to me and the best feeling ever. That’s what I do it for. If you do a good job writing a story, you should also be able to grab any reader. Everybody is not into hip-hop, but they may be still be into the book.
EBONY: Can we expect a love story?
Prodigy: That’s already in the works, of course.
Alexandra Phanor-Faury is a Haitian-American writer living in Brooklyn, New York with a slight (OK, major) addiction to fashion and pop culture. When she's not up in the middle of the night filling her online shopping carts and catching up on style blogs, she's writing about fashion and entertainment for a number of websites and her blog, Fringueuse.