Hip-hop fans are still in mourning over the unexpected death of veteran MC and Brooklyn favorite Sean Price. The Boot Camp Clik member most known for his work as one half of 90s rap duo Heltah Skeltah as well as his solo resurgence in the mid-2000s on Duck Down Records, Price expired in his sleep at the age of 43.
While this Friday sees the release of his posthumous mixtape Songs in the Key of Price, a project completed and pressed before Price's death with signed copies going to all the pre-orders, it's going to be the final work of a man whose wholly unique legacy in rap showed the toughest guys can still have the funniest self-deprecating humor. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Price's tremendous output, we've assembled five essential Sean Price tracks to get you started.
Fab Five – "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka" 1995
While Price's original group Fab Five released "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka" as the b-side to their debut single, the track scored radio play and became a sleeper hit, introducing the world to Price and company. While Fab Five never put out an album and split into two groups, O.G.C. and Heltah Skeltah (both under Duck Down) this track and its memorable video became an absolute 90s New York classic.
Heltah Skeltah – "Therapy" 1996
After Fab Five divided, Sean Price, then known as Ruck, forged on with Fab co-hort Rockness Monsta as Heltah Skeltah. One of the most creative outfits in rap (and we're not just referring to their album Nocturnal's fantastic cover art) Ruck and Rock shined by pushing the limits of what was coming out of Brooklyn at the time. "Therapy," a conceptual track about Rock as a patient talking to Ruck as a therapist, encapsulates all the stand-out slickness that the group was achieving.
Sean Price – "Boom Bye Yeah!" 2005
The rise of the independent/underground hip-hop circuit of the mid-2000s made for the perfect environment for Price to reinvent himself. After scoring a profile boost as a solo artist for the theme from Grand Theft Auto 3, Sean Price release "Boom Bye Yeah!" in 2005, debuting his "brokest rapper you know" incarnation. His solo debut album Monkey Barz, which topped several rap album of the year polls, became one of the decade's essential listens as Price began conquering the collaboration circuit.
Sean Price – "Mess U Made" 2007
Following the success of Monkey Barz, two years later Price released Jesus Price Supastar. The lush, fleshed out production continued his evolution as a solo artist, concluding with the funny and poignant "Mess You Made." Soulful, silly and introspective, it shows Price really maturing as an artist while maintaining the immaturity that keeps him so beloved.
Sean Price – "Figure Four" 2010
Finally, Price kicked off the decade with the single "Figure Four." At this point it's clear how much Price carved out his own lane. At a time when rappers seemed more interested in singing, Price's straight forward smooth multi-faceted rap flow is a true one of a kind. It shows why it was so easy to get excited about Sean Price, a great MC with a great personality who was truly fearless in terms of his subject matter and maintained a genuine unpredictability that kept listeners on his every word. He will be missed.