Sean Price’s ‘Imperius Rex’ Album Is A Living Testament Of His Lyrical Greatness
August 8, 2015 was a sad day for the global hip-hop community. On this day, one of our underground giants passed away peacefully in his sleep. Sean Price’s name may not immediately ring bells with the masses, but for hardcore rap connoisseurs, he is known as one of the best to ever do it. I was honored to see Price one last time on the day of Duck Down Music’s 2015 BBQ, held at Betsey Head Park in Brownsville, Brooklyn, which was Price’s hometown. After I got off the 3 train at Sutter Avenue, the first person I bumped into happened to be Sean Price. No words were exchanged. I just looked at him in shock, and he looked back. We gave each other a dap and that was it. I didn’t have to say a word. I will never forget that humble moment.
His wife, Bernadette Price, and daughter, Shaun Price, serve as living proof that positive energy never dies, it only transfers. On August 1, I was granted access to a private listening session in Manhattan to hear Sean Price’s posthumous album, Imperious Rex. The room was filled with Duck Down Music artists and extended family such as Statik Selektah, who sports a large “P!” tattoo on his calf muscle in honor of his deceased friend. The album played as images of the late rapper appeared on a projector screen. Sound waves filled with hard-hitting beats laced with rugged rhymes filled the room. No gimmicks, no wack features, no 808s combined with Auto-Tune—just the purest rap music in all the land.
Every feature on the album fits flawlessly, including a crazy verse from Duck Down’s very own BuckShot, who was super close to P. Buck doesn’t release music often these days, but his verse on “Apartheid” shows he’s not rusty at all when it comes to his craft. Track 9, “The 3 Lyrical Ps,” might be the standout track on the album because it features two of the rawest MCs: Styles P and Prodigy (RIP).
Aside from hard bars and beats, the album wouldn’t be complete without some of Sean’s humor. The “Not 97” skit features Mr. Price doing a FunkMaster Flex parody where he reenacts a 2015 Flex rant aimed at JAY-Z, but he is actually playfully dissing his own label and CEO Druha Friedman. It’s a minute and a half of pure comedy. However, my favorite moment on the album is the very last song, “Price Family.” Sean and his beloved wife, Bernadette, go bar for bar on the track. It’s magical how Bernadette is able to mirror Sean’s intricate rap flow. She really is a true reflection of her deceased king.
At the end of the night, upon my exit, I approached Bernadette and gave her a huge hug and kiss on the cheek. I had to tell her I admired her so much for her strength and for making all of this happen. We all owe Bernadette Price a major thank-you for helping make sure this album was finished and released— along with Dru, Buckshot and the entire Duck Down family. Although Sean left us in the physical, his legacy will live on, and Bernadette is making sure it happens. You know what they say: “Brownsville never ran, never will.”
VIBE: How long did the album take to complete, and what would you say was the hardest part about this whole process?
Bernadette Price: It took about a year and eight months to finish putting it together. The hardest part was working through all of the emotions of him not being here.
When did Prodigy record his verse?
I’m not sure when, but I know Prodigy and Sean were both still here when he did his verse, which was actually done for Harry Fraud, who then gave me the song for this album. Losing Prodigy hurt really bad because I immediately thought of his family, who had to deal with the pain that I still feel from losing my husband.
What would you say was the best moment for you in working on this project?
The best moment was being able to please his fans again, and finishing what he started.
Were you surprised when JAY-Z made a hefty donation to the funeral?
I was surprised and grateful, but they were cool with each other… Thank you, JAY-Z!
Ruck Down was the label Sean was working on before his passing…
Yes, Ruck Down is something he started, inshallah (God willing), and I plan to continue it as if he was here… I would have been running it anyway (lol).
What do you guys have planned next for the fans?
We have more music from Sean to release, so the plan is to finish what he started.