RELEASE: AUGUST 8, 2017, DUCK DOWN RECORDS
PHYSICAL RELEASE (According to Amazon.co.uk) AUGUST 25, 2017
REVIEW BY MICHAEL GRANT: CEO of RePPiN4U & Member of GGO/WuWorldwide DJ Coalition
“You ain’t gotta wait til I’m gone… you should have built the ‘Pac statue when he was here to see it!” (Busta Rhymes, 2011)
Busta Rhymes is RIGHT. We as a society do it all too often, take things for granted while it is still here, and as soon as it’s gone, everything changes. But let’s be real, on August 8, 2015, NO ONE was prepared for the tragedy that would strike Hip Hop.
Sean Price wasn’t a man who had a record of major health issues like say Prodigy with Sickle Cell or Dilla with Lupus. He wasn’t a man we had to keep tabs on. He was a man who despite being loved by his fans from his Heltah Skeltah days all the way to Mic Tyson, he wanted to be acknowledged as just a regular guy who liked to make people laugh, and particularly in his solo career he brought out this mean, Bernie Mac style delivery in his rhymes.
Two years later, Price’s family and Duckdown Records unleash what is believed to be his final album: Imperius Rex, and going by the track listing, think of it as Notorious B.I.G.’s Born Again LP… done properly. Again let’s be real, when Born Again dropped, the tracks on it were a bit hit and miss. Everyone remembers B.I.G.s first two albums. Even now, if you asked the casual fan, they wouldn’t have realised that Faith Evans recently dropped a project called ‘The King & I’, which is a collaboration of tracks performed by her and B.I.G.
APE DON’T KILL APE – P!!
If only Sean did the soundtrack to the Planet of the Apes film, how wonderful would that be? We are not trying to hear what he and wife Bernadette do in the bedroom – we want to hear that out-of-order and bright delivery he is renowned for on the album’s title track produced by Alchemist! He’s not Martin Luther, he’s the man who punches through school buses!
The album’s second video – ‘Dead or Alive’ boasts that Wu-Tang Production in 4th Disciple and features his wife in the hook. Who would have thought she was nice on the mic like that? At the same time, why do we act surprised? This track goes hard. If your face isn’t screwed up at this point, ready to kick down racists, stop reading this review now. This album is not for you!
P! continues his ‘Shawn Carter is nice but Sean Price is the best’ bravado on ‘Definition of a God’. Here P! proves his point way ahead of his time – 4:44 is a nice album but it’s been under debate and controversy since it dropped, and maybe the album achieved it’s purpose, but only three tracks in and the impact of Imperius Rex has already hit home faster than Jay making it back from ‘Becky’s house.
Many would believe that Sean was indeed a ‘Ape in his Apex’ at time of his passing. Over a MF DOOM sounding beat, actually produced by Crummie Beats, Ruste Juxx would concur, to the point where he believes he laid down one of his best verses in his career here, even playfully reveal P! as his ghostwriter.
‘Apartheid’ sees hints of reggae roots seep through and Buckshot defining what Hip Hop heaven is: “If Ruck don’t like you, Buck don’t like you/Ruck down, buck down, what a n!&&@ might do/Black moonwalk on ’em, rest in peace to Michael
R.I.P. Phife from Tribe, he in the light too/Hip-hop heaven, you see seven, that’s the god
All praises due to Allah, sun, moon, star…”
This along with ‘Lord Have Mercy’ may or may not show examples of unfinished tracks which P! started and Rim P & Vic Spencer finished, such as the ‘Born Again’ theory suggests.
‘Negus’ sees Hip Hop’s favourite supervillians combine their force and form a deadly alliance: Imperius Rex & MF DOOM featuring Ike Eyes. This is also appears on Adult Swim’s the Missing Notebook Rhymes in which DOOM releases a new track every Monday (At time of this review).
What hurts fake thugs/road man worse than being punched through pizza shop windows? Taking a knife to their Nike air bubble, as Sean demonstrates in Church Bells featuring Junior Reid. And Sean is right – I have seen such guys over the years enter Foot Locker and cause an argument with the staff because they want a refund from their Nike TNs after they splashed in the puddle wearing them after a day.
RUCKUS IN A P MINOR
This is an album highlight and a half, and on an even bigger scale because of Prodigy. Only Styles P can tell this story of how it came about. The 3 Lyrical Ps is Hip Hop History. Hard hitting lyrics over haunting deliberate sonics. This is sure-fire on every DJ’s best of 2017 playlist when the year is said and done.
NOT97 is a crazy parody of how Funk Flex and Hot 97 acts, and well deserved, because Flex’s comments about 2Pac as of late has not made him a likeable man. It also painfully reminds us that we may never see visual sketches that P! likes to do every now and then going forward. That aspect of him specifically will be sorely missed.
Omarion’s Ice Box has nothing on Refrigerator P! Yes he jumped on the remix of Girl with Destiny’s Child, he has shown ‘love’ on Heartburn and ‘I Love You B!tch’, but that’s the closest you are gonna get to P! going full-blown R&B: “Never catch P on the girl song
I smack sh!t out your “We Are the World” song/Get a hater scary
My defense intense Refrigerator Perry!”
Freeway admits he is a ‘Prisoner’ to this rap, but he and Sean are out to ‘Bea Smith’ the game over a Marco Polo beat. Then in ‘Resident Evil’, P! comes with lyrics that would make Capcom proud and even Eminem drop his jaw: “Rape an atheist ’til the bitch say, “our father”/Hail Mary/Brenda Had a Baby
Threw the baby out the window, now Brenda is going crazy”!
If that was any other artist, for the sake of argument – Jay- who said that same lyric, Hip Hop fans would be up in arms and adding on to his illuminati accusations.
FANS PRAYERS ANSWERED
Call it posse cut of the year. After wishes and petitions, a true Boot Camp Clik/Wu-Tang Clan track has come true in the Nottz produced ‘Clans & Cliks’. This is far too epic to not have a video produced for it, or even performed on stage. This is critically acclaimed and well received, one must wonder – are there still unreleased ODB & P! Verses enough to make that joint album we have always wanted?
It is great that the album closes out with Rap Professor which was released exactly a year after his passing, followed by ‘Price’s Family’, which further confirms what was alluded earlier about Sean’s way of life with Bernadette’s few bars which also go impressively hard, along with a fun fact which Bernadette reveals in the interview below…
This is a near perfect album to come out this year. Not because Sean is no longer here in the physical, but I say near perfect because as solid and flawless as it is, there are certain elements us fans wanted which may not be there, for example, some fans wished there was a 9th Wonder beat in there somewhere, a good ol’ Heltah Skeltah duo cut, or in my personal case – a Random Axe cut. Again these are minors, and like Dru-Ha explained in the video above, Bernadette put the body of work together that is Imperius Rex, approving the features, putting verses together, and she did it 100 times better than Puff Daddy did with Born Again – no wait – 1000 times better why? Because Sean Master Flex liked that number. P!