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Vandalized Prodigy Mural to be Replaced by 'Community' Piece, Group Says

 A mural of late rapper Prodigy after it was defaced in Queensbridge Friday night. Artists spent hours restoring the work, only to have it vandalized again on Sunday night or Monday morning.
A mural of late rapper Prodigy after it was defaced in Queensbridge Friday night. Artists spent hours restoring the work, only to have it vandalized again on Sunday night or Monday morning.
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Eli Lazare

QUEENSBRIDGE — The mural for late Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy that was vandalized twice before being painted over earlier this week will be replaced by a "community-inspired" piece of art that won't include a tribute to the hip-hop legend, according to the nonprofit that operates the building.

Urban Upbound, which runs antipoverty services at its headquarters on 13th Street and 40th Avenue, allowed artists to paint the portrait of Prodigy on the side of its building to honor the musician, who died last month at the age of 42.

But the mural was defaced twice just days after its completion — first covered in white paint, then splattered with red paint after artists spent hours restoring it following the first incident. The wall has since been painted over in solid black.

"We took a leap and gave these artists permission to paint the mural on there as a tribute, not thinking that it would be a problem," said Urban Upbound founder Bishop Mitchell Taylor. "Unfortunately there were some people that were hating."

The group is now raising funds to create a new mural at the site, but to avoid future vandalism, it will not be a replacement of the Prodigy portrait, according to Taylor.

Prodigy Mural The mural of Prodigy on Urban Upbound's building before it was defaced (Credit: Jeff Henriquez and Eli Lazare)

"Why should I keep putting an image up to give a person an opportunity to disrespect [it]?" he said. 

Taylor added that he has "great respect" for Prodigy and fellow Mobb Deep rapper Havoc, noting the duo performed for free at past Urban Upbound fundraisers.

The group will look for other ways to honor the late artist, but plans to replace the mural with something "that nobody would dare deface."

"We'll get the kids involved and put a nice mural up that everyone in the community can be proud of," Taylor explained.

The nonprofit launched an online campaign this week to raise $20,000, which Taylor says would cover the cost of a new mural, including paying an artist to paint it, as well as fixing parts of the building also damaged by the vandals.

"We got paint all over the awning, so the awning has to be replaced. There's paint all over the sidewalk," he said.