Writer’s Note: This interview was done in February of 2014 prior to P’s release of Mic Tyson. RhymeCulture has given me a chance to bring it back. Be sure to catch Sean Price and RA the Rugged Man performing this weekend (8/29/14) at Simon’s 677 in Providence. Locksmith and Prop Anon will also be featured alongside local talent The Dopemen and Grind Mode Generals. Tickets are $17 in advanced and $20 at the door.
Some Words with Jesus Price, an Interview.
When I had approached Sean Price in 2012 about doing an interview his response was “It’s not some weird shit is it?”. After stumbling over my words for a bit and telling him I worked for 90.3 I was able to convince him otherwise.That weekend I texted P sometime in the afternoon and waited the whole day for a response. I figured he must have been busy. I finally gave in and called, realizing that he gave me his home phone number. I half wish I captured the awkwardness of that conversation when he answered the phone not remembering who the hell I was. This was my first interview ever, so this is no doubt my favorite. Though I’ve only written a few artist interviews, I’ve had a lot of missed opportunities for a number of reasons. I have to appreciate Sean Price the person just as much as the MC for making this my easiest and most interesting interview. We spent time reflecting on what it was like growing up in Brownsville in the 80s, as well as his upcoming work at the time while he geared up for the release of Mic Tyson.
First I want to start with your evolution as an MC. You first released material as Ruck, now you’re Sean Price. What’s the story with the name Scrag Bite?
Sean Price: Oh, man… That’s from being down with the D-Cepts, Decepticons man. You know you make your own name. So you know, I was like ‘Yo my name is Ruckus’ and my man Lazer Beam was like ‘Your no fuckin Ruckus’. He said it like that. And he started calling me some other shit, and my mans Cyclonis he [said] ‘Man your name is fuckin Scrag Bite’ then everybody laughed ‘Hahaha’. They was rookie hazin and shit, like ‘Yeah your Ruckus but let me see some Ruckus before we start callin you that’. So I made my bones that night and you know I was Ruckus.
So you were running with the D-Cepts back in the 80s and do you think that shaped you as an MC?
Sean Price: Yeah definitely. Definitely that D-Cepts shit helped a lot. It hurt a lot too, but it helped more than it hurt though.
Were there any crews you were in before Heltah Skeltah?
Sean Price: Nope. Me, Tek, Steele, Rock. I knew the whole crew, we were homeboys first. We’re not no crew of rappers, we’re a crew period. I mean Craig G went to high school with us. Craig G from Juice Crew. So he’s a big inspiration, cuz he had a hit record and he went to high school with us.
Did you come up in the battle scene? Because I know Craig G is a legend at battle rapping. I also heard Rock met you when you were battling.
Sean Price: Nah, I been knew son. It’s just that we met up at a club and when I got to the club he was rhyming. It wasn’t a battle. I walked in and I was like ‘Oh shit it’s my man’. I’ve known him forever man, his mom and my mom are peoples. See I was into one kinda crime and he was in to a different kinda crime so we didn’t really hang out back then, but we knew each other.
So you guys grew up together in Brownsville.
Sean Price: Right.
So how did you guys come across the name Heltah Skeltah? Because I know its a reference to the Beatles song, or Charles Manson.
Sean Price: Yeah it’s got nothin to do with that man. You can thank Ug from the Cella Dwellas for that name. He gave [us] that name.
Would you say there’s a difference in characteristics between a Brownsville rapper and a rapper from another neighborhood in Brooklyn?
Sean Price: Nah. We probably have less success because of our attitudes that might be it. But otherwise than that we got the same talent that anybody else in Brooklyn got, you know what I mean.
Yeah, to me Brooklyn has always been a borough that represents lyrically.
Sean Price: Nah I respect all the boroughs though, don’t get it twisted. But I’m Brooklyn biased, by default. I fucks with every borough though.
Does Betsy Head Pool have any significance to you as a Brownsville rapper?
Sean Price: Yeah shit, that’s where we used to hang out in the summer. Shit, my wife still takes my kids there in the summer.
Word, I heard it was the spot back in the ’80s that’s why I’m asking.
Sean Price: Nah man, in the 80s man you’d probably be swimming and niggas might body slam a German Shepard in the pool. Shit was bugged in the 80s. And then me and my mans we hung at Betsy Head Park. You know at night we’d put a hole in the fence and go there with our radio and some beer and shit. Chill on the side, fuck around in the water an shit.
I wanna shift focus to some more recent shit. A lot of people draw parallels between Boot Camp Clik and the Wu-Tang Clan and I actually saw an interview with Raekwon recently where he said he feels the solo albums done by each Wu member hurt the group as a whole. Do you feel like your success as a solo artist in any way has changed your partnership with the group whether its the recording process or your relationship with other members?
Sean Price: Nah, nah, family is family man. All that ‘Heltah Skeltah you got success as Sean P’ . That shit means nothing to the crew man, we all friends before that. We’re not gonna let my success or the next niggas crew’s non success change the way we feel about each other. If I win they win.
And I know you said Rock’s mom and your mom were friends. But who’s the furthest you go back with out of all the Clik?
Sean Price: Rock and Steele. I don’t even remember when I met Rock. That’s what I mean, we family B. I know I met Steele when I was 10 years old. He’s from Sethlow Projects, I’m from Brownsville Projects. But his Grandma lived in my projects.
I know your first track was with Smif-N-Wessun, so did Steele put you onto that?
Sean Price: Yeah, Steele the boss man. Yeah, of course.
That’s what’s up man. I was also wondering about this TV show they’ve got in Canada called The Ultimate MC. It’s like some battle rap show right?
Sean Price: Yeah some shit like that.
Yeah I saw the first episode, but you weren’t the judge on that one. Do you just guest judge in different episodes?
Sean Price: Yeah, I haven’t even seen the episode man. I just heard about it.
Word, how’d you get involved with that though?
Sean Price: Bishop Brigante, my homie man. He suggested me and they flew me out. Simple as that.
Are you familiar with any of the other battle leagues like Grindtime or King of the Dot or any others?
Sean Price: I like a few of them dudes. I like Okwerdz; Swave Sevah that’s my G, we hang out a lot you know what I mean. My man Swave Sevah he gets busy you know what I mean, Team Homi, PH, Poison Pen. All of them are my friends man. I like Tech-9 from Philly, he gets busy.
What about this Statik Selektah release?
Sean Price: Yeah it’ll be out soon, I’m finishing my solo album up first. Then you can get all that other shit. I’m actually cleaning the album up right now, fine tunin it, knaw I mean? But it’s comin out.
Well that’s about it P. I just want to say thanks for giving me the time.
Sean Price: It’s all good my G. Just look out for the music man, look out for Mic Tyson coming soon. I dunno what I’m gonna do after that, but you’re gonna hear something. Maybe the Statik mixtape, maybe a new Random Axe, I dunno. Somethin though.
Alright, I’m looking forward to it. Peace.
Sean Price: Alright brotha, peace.