The violent existentialist in Sean Price (formerly Ruck of Heltah Skeltah) splendidly abuses rap, backhanding his rhymes and choking his couplets until logic loses its oxygen. He uses Jesus Price Superstar as his personal punching bag, wrenching body parts and screwing his metaphors extra tight.
The Passion of Price
Frequently sacrilegious and self-referential (and super succinct), this is not made for entertainment-hungry, reality-is-as-sweet-as-raspberry jelly ears. This is often blissful torture at the height of creative mutiny, stealing anything (body parts, rhymes, clues et al) just to pedal a few more songs. You get the feeling if he wasn't the "brokest rapper you know", he wouldn't be a rapper at all. He succeeds in the basement, in the grime, of his status dishing out topics as quick as the caliber of his weapon. Rap or rapping, which ever, is not a one way ticket to fame, but a cheap way to grope success for Sean Price, "I'm tryin' to write a rhyme that's gonna make me a mil."
"The Brokest Rapper You Know"
The album is groomed from a hellish, backwards dysfunctional rehab; the only exit is the same entrance, "I started out broke then I made a little change and then blew all my money on a damn dice game" Price confesses on "Hearing Aid". Trap doors abound like the Hollywood dreamy "Director's Cut," a scene within a scene complete with breaks, stunted takes, and incidentally, pithy commentary on the contrived nature of hip hop videos, "in this scene the rapper disses you, here's the gun and action."
Violence never fails to pervade his rhymes, making a cameo on all 16 cuts. It also serves as the unseen collaborator on "King Kong" featuring real collaborator Rock (of Heltah Skeltah). It has a purpose, "Cardiac", an enforcer "Oops Upside Your Head", and at last, a song "Violent". For all the promises (and fulfilled promises) of violence, there's plenty of safe examples of redemption like "Let it Be Known" featuring Phonte of Little Brother, an exceeding all-eyes-on me policing track that gives itself the best coverage, "I aint lyin'/ but if you think that I ain't trying / to be the best you need to rewind this .
The fairly deft production squad (9th Wonder, Khrysis, etc) performs a heaping service of scene placement, putting Price in the right environment, if not the right mind set. "Like You" is a menacingly ill-spirited holiday card to his most hated and cowardly detractors with stadium organs, faux gospel choir and a rolling, hopping thick synth line. The relentless ripping spiraling shrieks, a sample of 9th Wonder's rebellious genius, nearly gift-wrap "P Body" for Price's vocals.
His carpetbagger charm and self-deprecating taunts ("I ain't have a hit since '96") are masterfully endearing, bear hugging his shortcomings and aping his flow just to get a thought across. Humorous and heinous, "might go psycho, liposuction, knife poke white folks, I know nothin'", Price is a rare minimum wage employee: he gratefully worships his job, "all praises due to the rhyme" swears the Jesus incarnate.
The Bottom Line on Jesus Price Supastar
A constant purveyor of slum, muck, and the simplest of logic ( i.e. the most physical logic), Price is never quite at odds with himself, except on "Mess You Made", an intimidating, if a harsh pinch of reality, question mark about his rap career, "rags to riches, riches to rags this cash royalty check can't get me a cab".
Worse are his options, "But if you into takin' pills I got a spot in the 'Ville / Cause, right or wrong, I must get paid." It becomes only a sliver of difference between success and failure, celebrity and unemployment in a world where success is defined as escaping failure and fame as the strategy against poverty. Price might never shoot through the glass ceiling of success, but it's fun to gaze and, theoretically at least, deride and mock your goal for now, until you become realistically capable of reaching it.