Since emerging on the scene 16 years ago, Sean Price has never minced words, although we get a feeling he’s turned some faces into mince meat. The Brownsville bruiser became known as a member of the lauded Boot Camp Clik and more specifically the duo Heltah Skeltah, but you could argue he has carved out a solo legacy equal to, or rivalling that, of his original crew. Fresh from releasing his third solo studio album, the appropriately named ‘Mic Tyson’, he continues to let his skills do the talking. Despite being in his 40s he has the hustle and energy of rappers half his age and is conquering his fear of flying to perform in Australia with Brother Ali. We chat to Price about the independent grind, Hurricane Sandy and being the bad guy.
How are you doing, what have you been up to?
I’m in the car right now, driving in the white person section of Brooklyn, talking to someone in Australia.
Have you been performing material from the new album recently?
I’ve been performing a little bit, I just left the studio. I actually just did two songs, produced by M-Phazes. I’m always working man, doing a show or in the studio or doing features. Work, work, work.
Were you affected or was your family affected at all by Hurricane Sandy?
My family’s good, thanks for asking. I live in a building, a big building, so nothing happen apart from the lights flickering once or twice. That was the severity of it, but a lot of people got fucked up and shit out there, so god bless them.
Well at least it seems like people are bouncing back, New Yorkers are very tough but it was scary as it was happening?
It was crazy man. I wanna talk about it more but I really can’t. I hate being such a conspiracy theorist but I don’t know, there’s something funny about this hurricane. I don’t really wanna get into it because I don’t really know what I’m talking about. But it feels different, like something is going on or maybe I should put the weed back. I mean come on man, we got the gas shortage thing out here, everything is jammed up. Maybe I’m thinking too much. Maybe I should smoke more weed, that’s the answer.
You’ll be performing four shows down here with Brother Ali, how are you feeling about the tour here in Australia?
I can’t wait man, Brother Ali is a great brother. I appreciate him letting me rock on tour with him and I ain’t gonna let him down. I’m gonna do my thing, I’m gonna tear it down.
Have you guys performed together before?
We actually did two shows together. I might be an older dude but I still learn something new every day. I learnt a lot watching Brother Ali’s performance, he’s got a great stage show. His stage show turns into a church, but not in a bad way. Everyone was jumping around, everyone was participating and it was real good. I learnt a lot from him. I can’t wait to see what he’s doing now.
It should be an interesting dynamic, because you’re both uncompromising in what you do but you have different styles?
When it comes to music, I appreciate Brother Ali’s music and I like to listen to it. For the most part it’s a balance. What you get from both of us is that we both can rhyme, clearly we know what we’re talking about. His might be a bit more uplifting than mine but if he wanted to rhyme on my level and talk the way I talk he would be just as ill. But he doesn’t do what I do. I do what I do. It’s a beautiful thing man, you get both. It’s like a cartoon, you got the nice guy and you got the bad guy on your shoulders. I’m the bad guy and I like that.
You’ve been in the game for over 15 years but this your first time touring down here, why is that?
I’ve turned it down a few times. That long flight man, I have a fear of flights, but my fear of being broke usually supersedes my fear of flights.
Maybe you could use something to calm your nerves?
I’m not smoking no weed on this tour. If I do smoke weed, I’ll try and do it where no one else can see. I’m not a kid, I don’t wanna get caught out on camera.
Is what people hear on your albums what you get with the real Sean Price or are you a bit different away from music?
I’m a real piece of shit, I’m not even gonna sit here and lie to you. I don’t play well with others or nothing. I’m very anti-social, I don’t really be saying shit about nothing. So what you get is the real Sean Price. I don’t really give a fuck about too many things.
What was the process like making the Mic Tyson album, was the process any different than your last album?
I spent a couple weeks recording in Los Angeles with The Alchemist and a couple weeks in North Carolina with 9th Wonder’s camp. The rest of the time was spent in Brooklyn getting the project where I wanted it to be. I have fun making the albums…probably too much fun, which is why it took so long to get out, but the process didn’t change for Mic Tyson verses previous albums.
What response has the album gotten so far, how have the live crowds reacted to the new tracks?
The response has been positive. People love to hear my disrespectful banter. The shows of late have been good. My favorite song to perform is STFU Part 2. I enjoy having the opportunity to play new music. I can’t stand when artists only focus on their older catalogue.
You’ve been in the game since the 90s, what do you think are the ingredients for staying so vital in the game and remaining consistent?
Keep a good team around you. Dru Ha has been solid management for me for years and his label game is strong too. We’re always working on ways to push the envelope with the promotions, whether it’s me pretending to be Nardwuar, or impersonating the late, great Bob Ross.
How did the idea come about for Seanwuar, do you have any more in the works?
I’m a huge fan of his interviews, so rather than fly out to Vancouver, I thought I’d become the man himself and interview my fellow labelmate Pharoahe Monch. We definitely plan on doing more.
How does the New York of today compare to the New York you grew up in?
It’s still hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The streets are filled with garbage…probably more so today. The Obama Fried Chicken just recently closed in Brownsville, so I’m heated about that. I don’t ride the subway anymore because it’s overcrowded and smells like goat urine.
On ‘Bully Rap’ you joked about not voting for Obama, did you follow the election coverage, what did you think of it?
I did not follow the election coverage. Everything the politicians speak of will never affect anything from my community in Brownsville, Brooklyn. They speak of supporting the middle-class, but they’ll say just about anything to get themselves back in the driver’s seat. The nation itself is pretty much divided for who they want to vote for anyway…Obama getting a little over 50% of the popular vote…not really that popular.
You’ve got Freddie Gibbs on the new album, are there any other guys you’re checking for, do you listen to much new stuff?
I like Roc Marciano and KA.
Your last few album covers have a cool animated vibe, have you thought about maybe doing an animated show or something with animation?
Yes. I need a network to step up and offer a show, otherwise I’ll continue to flip it on my own through Duck Down. I’ve always been heavy into comics, so seeing the animation sequences on myself is awesome.
What was it like doing another Heltah Skeltah album, could we hear another one again in the future?
Rock is family and Heltah Skeltah was a successful time for us in the 90’s, but I don’t see us doing another Heltah Skeltah album in the future.