Thanks to a falling out with Nas during the tumultuous tenure of The Firm, Cormega has a hot-and-cold history with the Queens rap scene. But while he was beefing with the borough's de facto leader in the late 90's, his friendship with the crew from Mobb Deep never faltered, and he claims it helped change his life.

As a tribute to Prodigy—who passed away tragically from complications due to sickle cell anemia—Cormega wrote a touching letter for Newsweekdetailing his lengthy relationship with the members of the Mobb. Cormega claims he saw a remarkable drive in Prodigy from the time he met him as a teenager, and when Cormega spent time in jail during the mid 90's, he was thrilled to look on from afar as the hard work paid off for Mobb Deep.

We were all trying to succeed it in the rap game, but they worked harder than I did. They were doing everything they could to ensure their success. I admired their determination. But I was caught up in the street life that would inevitably send me on an up north trip to Midstate.

During my years away, Mobb Deep developed into a formidable ‎duo. One day, while I was in prison and watching television, I caught a video of “Shook One’s,” the hit single of Mobb Deep’s The Infamous LP. I felt proud to know them, proud that the seeds they had planted had blossomed into something wild and exciting. It was also amazing to see so many familiar faces in the video, which was filmed on the same streets we represented. 

Beyond the success Prodigy achieved as a musician—'Mega called him "one of the greatest rappers of all time"—Cormega also wanted to make sure people appreciated Prodigy as a father and a thinker, as a man who strove to put forth his best effort in every area of his life. He claims the dark cloud of sickle cell hanging over Prodigy inspired him to get the most out of every moment he had on Earth, and says featuring on Mobb Deep's Murda Muzik album helped Cormega leave life in the streets behind to pursue music earnestly.

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In a rare moment of vulnerability for an artist in a hyper masculine field, Cormega closed his letter with a short description of how much he cared for Prodigy.

"Over the years, Prodigy and I had valleys and peaks," said Cormega, "but I can say this sincerely—with God as my witness—I loved him. And I’ll always feel honored that we made music together and be grateful for the things he did for me."

Cormega, who penned a similarly-touching letter that appeared in Vibe shortly after Prodigy's death, is just one in a long list of hip-hoppers to express their sadness over Prodigy's passing. The 2017 BET Awards are expected to feature a tribute to the deceased rapper's life, and everyone from ASAP Rocky to your local newscaster has saluted Prodigy since his untimely death.

You can read Cormega's full tribute to Prodigy here.