Studio A becomes hip-hop central on Thursday with the appearance of Duck Down Records artist Sean Price. Price is the artist formerly known as Ruck, half of the rap group Heltah Skeltah, and one of the lead MCs from the mighty Boot Camp Clik.
In his sophomore solo effort, Jesus Price Supastar, he wastes little time before laying down some advice to wide-eyed purists: "I'm tryin' get paid/You're tryin' get robbed." Of course one expects cartoonish investment advice in today's rap-o-sphere (and, too often, little else). But a little self-effacement goes a long way, and that's the main thing Price is out to exploit.
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In a reflective example of why the new and improved Price is so universally admired in underground rap circles, his first diss (in the opening track, "Like You") is reserved for himself: He cackles aloud at the notion of his own divinity. This lack of blowhardiness puts the listener immediately at ease. Sound effects like mollusk-speed reggaeton and ghostly war whoops don't hurt, either. Discerning listeners appreciate that he's not another in the endless line of overstuffed clockers raving about how dealing drugs will set you free. Sure, he's been there and done things he later regretted in order to help subsidize his income and provide for his family, but when he does broach the subject it's done nostalgically (in "Brokest Rapper You Know," he jokes that he's so broke he should go back to the life).
There are more than enough call-outs to go around on the new album when he brags, "I never sing the same shit twice like Mike Jones," he's casting a wide net but when it's over you feel like you've been let in, not left out. All this and some primordial scratching too.