Onionhead bastards take heed—Sean P. is back. After lacing numerous verses on records by his Brooklyn fam Boot Camp Clik, Price (formerly known as Ruck from Heltah Skeltah) went on to drop his critically-acclaimed solo debut Monkey Barz in 2005. Now, Mr. Scagnetti has burned the midnight oil and churned out another anticipated underground smash with Jesus Price Supastar. Featuring appearances from Sadat X, Buckshot, Phonte, and his partner-in-rhyme, Rock, as well as production from 9th Wonder and Khrysis, Price is looking to bless his blasphemers with the lyrical holy ghost. Always on the go, Sean chopped it up with XXLMAG.com about his upcoming album, his similarities to Ghostface and why he’ll continue to eat off of MySpace.
You’ve been doing it for almost 12 years now. What’s kept you going after all this time?
I feel like I haven’t got my just due. A lot of people haven’t really heard me yet, and it’s that that keeps me going in this business. Y’all haven’t heard nothing from me. I still feel fresh and brand new. Having this whole Sean Price persona give me a new lease in the game. It allows me to be a new person. Most people have no idea who Ruck is and have never heard of Heltah Skeltah, but they know who Sean P is, [and] that is a blessing in disguise.
Monkey Barz was critically-acclaimed in the press…
[Laughs.] Not by XXL it wasn’t! They gave me an “L”. I’m not hating; I still bought the magazine, and I still got my money that I made off of the album.
Well, Jesus Price Supastar seems to have an even bigger buzz than the last album. What’s the meaning behind the title?
There’s nothing religious behind it. There hasn’t been any controversy behind it, because I’ve explained it to people. You ever read the Bible? I’m not well versed in it, but according to it, Jesus goes through the land spreading the Word, and it’s God. Well, Jesus Price goes through the hood spreading the word, and it’s Hip-Hop.
You worked mainly with two North Carolina-based producers, 9th Wonder and Khrysis, on the album. What was it about working with them on Monkey Barz that made you link up with them again for this go-around?
See, what happened last time was that I did most of the album in New York. After that, I did the rest down in North Carolina. But with this album, I did it in reverse. I went down there to start the album and finished the rest in New York. Working with them is great. 9th’ll make five beats in about an hour or two. But when we get together, we’re like a machine. We knocked out them songs like bing-bing-bing. But it was kind of stressful, I couldn’t smoke down there. There studio is connected to a church. [Laughs.]
I don’t know if you’ll remember this, but in June, you and Buckshot performed at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. Backstage, security wasn’t letting your family through to be with you in the V.I.P. section. Does having a certain level of anonymity make things difficult?
I like that shit, B. I don’t care about being famous at all. I mean, I want to make money, but I don’t care about my face being blasted all over the place. I like being regular with my life. I love rap, but I don’t praise rap. I have a life. I got a wife and a kid. I don’t have time for that bullshit. I keep it real simple. I’m not looking to be famous. I live on a block full of West Indians; they don’t bother me about no damn hip-hop! I love that known unknown shit. But once you start to do better, the fame comes with the territory. I’ll deal with it when and if it comes.
On “Onionhead,” you say, “Gangsta rappers can’t fight, so they rap about guns.” Your knuckle game must be nice…
Man, half of these rappers are pussy! I’m not even trying to call anybody out, but 99% of these rappers are pussy! I’m not a gangster rapper or anything like that. It’s just that people are scared to be themselves. I’m not a super drug dealer. I’ve used a gun before, but that was because I had to defend myself. That doesn’t make me a thug, that makes a man.
So, hypothetically, who would win in a fight between you and Freddie Foxx?
I ain’t fucking with Freddie Foxx, man! [Laughs.] I wouldn’t want to know who won that fight. But, on the real, my knuckle game is serious, if I didn’t know how to do anything else, I’d know how to fight. I used to box when I was younger. I took up martial arts, plus I’m a big dude, so you get the idea. I try not to get involved with beef. I got into this game to do my music. I’m not trying to put dudes on blast. I think that rappers are sensitive right now. I don’t want to get involved in that shit.
People are saying some crazy shit. I like Nas, but cats are going at him hard-body. People are going too far with the disses. If I was Nas, and I respect how he’s handling himself, but I’d catch a case right now. They say words will never hurt, but let someone say something out of pocket with me—there’s no more rapping, I would’ve taken it to the mattress. They have no respect. If it happened to me, I’m not rapping. We’d have to see each other. It’d be corny to have to kill a rapper, but you can’t think that I’m going to let you talk about me and I’m just going to make a record back. I stay away from the people who do that crazy shit. I don’t have beef with anyone. I’m not saying it on some tough shit, I’m saying it for real. Certain things should be off limits.
You also recently went out on tour with Ghostface. You’re both critically-acclaimed New Yorkers who are largely slept-on by the mainstream. Do you see other similarities?
Man, the other day I went to an Italian shop and the dude at the store thought I was Ghostface. That’s real talk—he thought I was him. I had on the camouflage leather jacket on with the matching Wallabees and people thought I was him. Ghost and me are mad cool. He put me on the tour. We both fuck with that soulful sound and we speak the truth. I’m trying to get him on the album, but he has a demanding schedule. But we’ll hook up in the future. I love the comparison, because son and me put in that real work. A few others do it too, but Ghost and I have that same vibe. I can tell.
Heltah Skeltah is sorely missed. I know Rock is featured on the solo joint, but how’s the reunion album coming along?
I’m going to be honest with you, man—it’s coming along real fucked up. I can’t front, I was doing this Jesus Price album and Heltah Skeltah’s at the same time. I can’t do that. Rock was doing his solo joint and was trying to do the album too. I feel like the pressure is too much to live up to. Check it, this Sean Price shit got me a fresh start. It’s easier to do this than to do a Heltah Skeltah album. We did mad songs and we don’t like none of them. The shit is mad stressful. It fucks with my stomach.
Honestly, not even on no sucker shit, we know what dudes is expecting. Don’t get it twisted, we ain’t going to cop out. There’s no problem between son and me. We just got to get it right. We’ll get it done. I can’t give a date, but on the real, it’ll be out when it’s done. That’s my whole focus now since Jesus Price is done. We’re going to fuck with Nottz to see what he has for us. We’re going to holler at 9th and Ill Mind too. But just to let you know, if it never comes out, you’ll know why. It’s not because Rock and me hate each other—our moms are peoples—we just got beef trying to make this shit right.
It seems like you really stay on your grind.
Yeah, I do four songs a week on other people’s tracks. I’m on MySpace, grindin’ hard, you know. I charge $1,000-$1,200 to feature me on your songs. All you MCs on MySpace, just get at me and we can make it work. Do the math, son—that’s anywhere from $4,000-$4,800 a week. A week! That’s just from sitting down and choppin’ it up with cats on MySpace. I’ve been doing this for the past six, seven months. Trust me, you won’t hear the “Brokest Rapper, Pt. II” on this album. [Laughs.] I have over 15,000 people in my friends list and, you know, people asked me how to get me on their tracks. They send me the beat and half the dough upfront and then I send it verse and we finish it up like that. I’m not trying to be a drug dealer, I’m trying to be an MC. A lot of people don’t know that after the Magnum Force album, I was [at] rock bottom. I was assed out. I went back to hustlin’. That shit wasn’t cool. I talked to myself and said, “Am I going to be a drug dealer, or am I going to put my effort into hip-hop?” I live, eat, breathe and shit hip-hop and I’m finally getting rewarded for it. Allah has blessed me – my family is right and life is good.