Sean Price, Rest in Peace

August 09th, 2015 | Category: Essays

I’ve never hoped so hard for a hoax… My favorite rapper, Sean Price, reportedly passed away in his sleep Saturday morning.

Sean Price, R.I.P.

Sean Price taught me so much. He embodied and critiqued the hypocrisies and contradictions of being an entertainer, specifically a rapper, for a living. He taught me that you can make serious art, be serious about your craft, and still not take yourself too seriously. His friends Black Milk and Vinnie Paz both say he was one of the funniest people they knew. His albums and mixtapes all have goofy, punny names: Mic Tyson, Kimbo Price, Donkey Sean, Jr. His email signature on his iPhone read, “Sent from GOD!” He was as much a clown as he was a monster emcee. Here, in his “Rap Clinic” sketch, he demonstrates both.

Once the news spread on the internet Saturday, reminders came quick that we need to recognize those we love while they’re alive — and let them know. As Rob Swift put it,

Sean Price’s death this morning is a harsh reminder that life is not promised, and so let’s not take for granted what the real giants in the game have done for Hip-hop. I say that because the truth of the matter is this, the majority of us celebrating Sean Price today are a day late. Ruck would of appreciated the youtube posts and all the love being channeled his way a lot more yesterday when he was alive!

I talk about Hip-hop a lot, so I talk about Sean Price a lot. In over a decade of teaching college classes, some of them about Hip-hop, I never met a student who knew who he was. Now, seeing the outpouring of tributes, I know he had more fans than I ever imagined. I just hope he knew that.

With that said, I don’t think the fame mattered that much to him. He did this because he loved it. He raps on “Like You” (from Jesus Price Superstar, 2007), “You do what you can, and I do what I want to.” As he told me in our one and only interview in 2009,

I’m a fan of Hip-hop first of all. I was one of those kids who taped Red Alert and Mr. Magic and Marley Marl. I copped LPs and read the credits, so when I got a deal later, it was a honor for me to be surrounded by motherfuckers I grew up listening to, and I stay humble… I remember smoking a blunt with Primo watching him work on “Unbelievable” for Biggie… Ah, good times.

I haven’t cried over a celebrity since Mitch Hedberg died. Sean Price was younger than I am, but he was a mentor to me. My man Aesop Rock writes of him, “Guy was an icon and should be remembered as such.”

Rest in peace, my brother. You are already sorely missed.

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