In Memoriam: Sean Price

Written by Angelo Gingerelli


Remembering Hip-Hop Icon, Sean Price

On August 8th Sean Price aka Ruck of Heltah Skeltah aka “The Brokest Rapper You Know” passed away in his Brooklyn home and the rap game will never be the same.


Since debuting two decades ago on 1995’s street classic Leflaur LeFlah Eshkoska and releasing 96’s Nocturnal as one half of Heltah Skeltah, Sean Price has been a steady force in NYC’s indie/underground Hip-Hop scene. Price was a member of the Boot Camp Clik and signed to Duck Down Records and remained fiercely loyal to the crew and label throughout his twenty year career. Coming out at the very beginning of the “Shiny Suit Era,” Price and his BCC brethren presented a clear alternative to the pop-friendly, danceable hip-hop that flourished in the mid to late-90’s. They weren’t in the VIP section, they were waiting outside the club in hoodies and Timberland boots ready to shake down people waiting for the valet to bring up their Bentleys.

Sean Price is the rare emcee that really hit his stride during the second decade of his career. Beginning with 2005’s “Monkey Barz” Price toned down the tough talk of his earlier work (toned down, not eliminated completely) and began to show a funnier, lighter side of his personality that really connected with critics and fans. From talking about the realities of being an underground rapper (comically referring to himself as a “Thousandaire” and “The Brokest Rapper You Know”) to the No Limit/Cash Money-mocking cover of his “Master P!” album, to the numerous YouTube videos he used to promote his projects (check out clips of him harassing the head of his record label as he prepares for they NYC Marathon or imitating internet personality Nardwar for some laughs) he was somehow able to find a balance between being funny and maintaining his status as a dope MC that would smack whoever got out of line. Price perfectly personified the curmudgeonly uncle that would tell you why skinny jeans, Soulja Boy and ring tone rap were wack at the family BBQ and instead of getting mad at his “back in my day…” stance you would laugh at his delivery and realize he was right at the same time.

Price maintained a level of relevancy since the mid-90’s rare amongst his contemporaries. While his peers pandered to younger audiences by jumping on trends and collaborating with whouever was hot at the moment, he stayed the course and continued to deliver unapologetic East Coast hip-hop with his own signature style and sense of humor. He never made a dance song, never made a “Dirty South” record and never collaborated with MC’s he didn’t respect (a Sean Price feature was a prized commodity in Underground Rap circles). He was a shining example of how great NYC Hip-Hop could be when done right.

Sean Price was funny without being a clown, approachable without being soft and seemingly universally adored (a quick look at social media will show how many artists, industry people and journalists loved the man). With his passing his wife, three kids, Brownsville, Brooklyn, NYC, the music industry, Hip-Hop and the world lost a true original.