The hip-hop community was hit with the tragic news of Sean Price’s passing last week and the outpour of emotion over his loss signifies what Sean P meant to the culture. In 43 years on this Earth, Price devoted his life to music and was widely respected for his special ability to deliver hard body street raps while also putting a witty sense of humor on display. The Brooklyn bred rapper extraordinaire may have been overshadowed during the pinnacle of New York hip-hop where groups such as Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, and the Bad Boy collective held reign over the headlines, but Sean P stood the test of time and deserves every tribute he has received due to his enduring presence and immortal heartbeat as an emcee.
The artistic journey of the Brownsville rapper began in the mid 1990’s with an appearance on Smiff-N-Wessun’s revered album Dah Shinin, setting the tone for his career by ending his opening verse with “so think not of what I am and what I do, just recognize when I’m on the mic I rule”. Not too long after, Sean P’s (then known as Ruck) official membership within the underground super-group of the Boot Camp Click became official as he became half the duo of Heltah Skeltah (along with Rock). Their debut album Nocturnal was successful as an aggressive body of work which put the contrasting, yet corresponding raw styles of Ruck and Rock on a well-tailored, hoodie/Timbs-laced equilibrium. It was during this time period in which Sean Price initially emerged as a lyrical beast capable of knocking out any opponents with hammering linguistics and a fierce technique.
Despite his early accomplishments during the golden era, it is Sean P’s solo career that propelled his artistry to a younger generation who appreciated his direct authority on the mic. While most emcees of his time may have fallen off during the ushering of the new age, Price aged like fine wine and the acclaim of his solo debut Monkey Barz earned him a fresh level of respect. Tracks such as “Peep My Words”, “Onion Head”, and “Heartburn” were instant hits amongst Price’s appreciative fan-base and Sean P proved to be one of the more beloved members of Duck Down Records, which still boasts a plethora of independent hip-hop talent. Sean P’s follow-up albums such as Jesus Price Superstar, Random Axe (alongside Black Milk and Guilty Simpson), and Mic Tyson solidified the bully rap filled catalogue of the NYC bruiser, who never let the BS of the industry affect him, wisely choosing to stay in his lane to focus on keeping his pen game sharp as ever.
While we never thought Sean Price would depart so soon, he left behind a revered legacy and the past week has proved his strong influence amongst today’s artists. From the boom-bap worshippers to experimental/futuristic enthusiasts, all segments of the hip-hop populace have shown their admiration for Sean’s memorable punchlines, intricate rhyme schemes, and entertaining wittiness both behind on and off the mic. Every time Sean P was on a track, as a listener it was a must to brace yourself for the graphically sensational verse that was about to blare through your headphones. Price was not only a rapper’s rapper, but also a family man and that makes his loss even more heartbreaking.
In an interview with Noisey last year, Price made it seemingly clear what kind of legacy he’d want to leave behind: “I think people will go, ‘Yo! That nigga can rhyme!’ And I’m cool with that. It’s the rap game, man. I wish that they would go ‘he’s dope and had eight platinum records,’ but I don’t and that’s cool. For those that don’t know. Sean P? That motherfucker can rhyme. I’m cool with that because, motherfucker, I can rhyme!” Sean P will be remembered for all of the above and more; he may have not been a chart topping artist, but Sean Price was a gifted emcee who was (and forever will be) a superstar in his own right.