Sean Price only makes ignorant hip-hop, and he’ll break anyone in his way. Price’s new album Jesus Price Superstar is a fitting title for a man who might feel as if he’s been resurrected. Price, rapping under the name Ruck, was half of acclaimed duo Heltah Skeltah whose 1996 album Nocturnal earned widespread respect. Struggles with drug use and poverty derailed Price’s career, but he has re-emerged as the “brokest rapper you know.” The hard times he fought through shows in the asphalt voice, locked down lyrics, and sense of humor that makes Jesus Price …
DJBooth Album Review
Price’s complex flows on tracks like the hard hitting King Kong prove that he’s enormously intelligent, yet he boasts that he “has worked hard to be this stupid.” To understand Price, and this album, you have to understand what he means by ignorant: ignorant is petty crime, no groceries, and struggling to pay the rent. Ignorant is not a yacht filled with dancing models and groupies. On Jesus Price Superstar Price has taken the realness that many rappers front to avoid, and held it up by the neck to show the world.
Price tells his ignorant tales over some surprisingly mellow instrumentals from producers like 9th Wonder, and many songs borrow heavily from 70’s funk, old-school soul, and orchestral harmonies. These softer notes only serve to better highlight his raw lyrics and rough voice. The track Violent starts with violin melodies and quiet singing, then Price announces “this is the type of track that makes you want to say some relaxed shit…but that’s not me,” before launching into a verse about kicking in fake MC’s teeth. This contrast runs throughout the album, creating the unsettling feeling that any peace can be shattered in an instant.
Price’s refusal to rely on hooks (few of the songs have choruses) is refreshing in a world of pre-packaged and formulaic tracks, but sometimes work against him. Tracks like P-Body featuring his Heltah Skeltah partner Rock, and Church are solid, but get lost in the flow of the album without something memorable to make them stand out. By contrast, Price’s collaboration with Phonte, of Little Brother, on the track Let It Be Known is a perfect example of a song that stays with you, but doesn’t have to resort to gimmicks.
Jesus Price Superstar lives in the space between backpack underground rap, and the mainstream money flow. As Price puts it, “That’s what I’m here for, to fill a void.” This is a man who will lay down a verse on anyone’s album for some cash, but writes tracks like Mess You Made, which takes an introspective look at his hardcore drug use and contemplated suicide. There’s no doubt that Jesus Price Superstar is already the most ignorant album of 2007…now that’s a Grammy category Sean Price could actually win.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 02/14/07
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Duck Down Records
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Credibility ft. Sean Price" (2008)
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