Prodigy Queensbridge Mural Repaired, Ragged Again
Even an epic repair job couldn't save the tribute
It’s been a hectic few days in Queensbridge. The Prodigy tribute mural was ragged again last night, just hours after being fixed following its previous defacement. And contrary to our earlier report, MASS APPEAL has been advised that there are no plans to create a new Prodigy mural.
Prodigy’s passing last month sparked a number of murals and tributes across the country, and last Friday a pair of artists were wrapping up a painting across the street from the Queensbridge projects, the legendary hip hop hotbed closely associated with Mobb Deep’s—and by extension P’s—legacy. But when the artists were just about finished, someone came by and splashed white paint all over it with what looks like a fire extinguisher. Undeterred, the artists came back on Saturday and repaired the mural in an overnight stretch. And now residents have woken to mural splattered with paint again, this time in red.
The one-story tall, hyper-realist painting captured Prodigy in a trademark pose, with his forearms crossed to show off his tats. The memorial was mainly painted by Jeff Henriquez with help by Eli Lazare, aka Eli-Eos, who also painted the text and organized the whole thing.
While painting it the first time on the corner of 13th Street and 40th Avenue, it hit a positive note for locals. “People knew him personally, he wasn’t just a rapper,” Henriquez says of the experience. “People from the bodega and from school would talk about him because they knew him.”
That first version took about a week of full-time painting to finish. After it was buffed on Friday night, the artists came back the next day and knocked out a new version in an epic 15-hour session. “I was hurt by it. It was disrespect, not just because it was Prodigy, but it could’ve been anyone’s memorial,” Eli-Eos says. “But we didn’t want to let it fester, we wanted to bounce back. We were trying to take everybody out of that funk, that pain that everyone felt. That was the goal.”
On Facebook, theories abound as to who the culprit is, running the gamut from the Illuminati, to hipsters, to Trumpites. But the artists’ experience over the next few days would prove different.
“Throughout those 15 hours, we seen it all,” Eli-Eos says. “There was a lot of anger and pain about the mural. There were also people telling us not to paint. Cats had a fight right there on the street in front of us. It was tension or beef from like 15 or 20 years ago. People were driving by and screaming at us, looking at us. But we kept rocking.”
A few people from Queensbridge and Mobb Deep’s camp stayed by the artist’s side the whole time and then watched the mural after it was finished until the sun came up. The community board and a nearby church called the police to patrol the mural, who also did an investigation and checked the security cameras.
In the end, it wasn’t enough and someone came by and vandalized it again. And it will be the last time, unfortunately, because the piece will be taken down. Community groups, the property owner and the artists have agreed to paint over it. “We want this to end on a peaceful note,” Eli-Eos says.