This past week hip-hop lost Sean Price, a legendary emcee well-known and revered by many underground rap fans and more than likely your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. Over two decades P built a stellar body of work, known for his brazen lyrics, his drive to be the best emcee possible and to preserve the art of rhyming and the competitive spirit of rap, and his great sense of humor. Really, have you seen his shorts on Youtube? It was a numbing moment to me when I heard the news, and for the past few days I’ve been spending time going through some of his work, in particular, this early record with fellow NYC emcee Rock, making the dynamic duo of Heltah Skeltah. Diggin’ back in the archives for this one, take a look.
Betcha a buck fifty you can’t fuck with me…
In 1993, a crew out of Brooklyn named Black Moon dropped an instant classic with Enta Da Stage, a record known for it’s hardcore thuggery, breathtaking bass, and blatant disregard for the printed word (as an English major, I mad). Along with returning attention to NYC rap and giving fuel to the hardcore movement the album also heralded the arrival of the Boot Camp Clik, a group of Bucktown rappers of whom Black Moon were members. The collective wasted no time on the world domination front, and by ’96, had a stable of dope emcees dropping great music.
Heltah Skeltah, the name outrageously jacked from The Beatles (as hip-hop does from time to time), was part of the Boot Camp’s third wave. The duo of Rock and Ruck (A.K.A. Sean Price) arrived in 1996 with their debut, Nocturnal. Corny album cover aside, Nocturnal was a solid record, and in my opinion, contained some of the best work that the Clik produced outside of Enta Da Stage. Ruck and Rock have a great chemistry, they are both strong rhymers, and Rock has this awesomely croaky voice which sounds just perfect for the lyrics (why didn’t he go become a notable solo artist like his buddy Sean P?). Da Beatminerz’s production is also on point, and while they go for a more smooth (very 1996 bling rap style) and less earth-shattering sound than previous Clik records, it works well here.
“Clan’s, Posse’s, Crew’s, & Clik’s,” brings a grin to my face every time I hear it. One of the album’s best tracks, and one of my favorite all-time rap tracks, “Clan’s” is all about Rock and Ruck shitting on inferior crews (though I’m guessing that the only “Clik” acceptable is the one they are a part of). And shit, they do! The beat is exceptional, with sharp jabs, rattlesnake-like accents, and that blunt descending beat, and over it Ruck and Rock go wild, with excellent deliveries and flat-out great lines. I mean, really: That catchy as hell hook? Rock proving how vile he is by doing your girl in the back of a dirty van? Ruck comparing his lines to golden showers? Those parroting callouts at the end? Truly, any song with the line, “fuck the world, I’ll stick my dick in the dirt” is a keeper.
Listen to this one right now.
Originally posted on my old blog, Emaciated Wildebeest, on February 21, 2011. Rest in Peace, Sean Price. To donate to his family, check out this fundraiser set up by Duck Down Records.