Price of Fame – Self-Titled review

Price of Fame is a hardcore hip hop duo from New York consisting of Lil’ Fame on production & the late Sean Price on the mic. Both of whom have solidified themselves as icons in the underground for their output as members of M.O.P. & the Boot Camp Clik respectively. But with Christmas coming next week, Fame has put together an album for the fans of unreleased Price songs that he produced.

After the intro “A Few Words from Sean Price & Mrs. Price”, the first song “Big Gun vs. Lil Gun” finds Sean getting with M.O.P. to of course talk about weapons over some funky guitar licking backed with drums. The track “Center Stage” is an energetic crowd mover while the song “Boston George” with Tek sees the 2 talking about how hard they are over an organ-inflicted beat. After the “Sit Yo Ass Down” skit, the song “Pigs” with Steele touches down on corrupt cops over a boom bap beat with some horns.

The track “They Ain’t Fucking with Us” is a gruesome Heltah Skeltah reunion while the song “Remember the Time” sounds like it could’ve been on that Metal Detectors EP that Illa Ghee dropped with Sean last year. The track “Wait for It” with Fame sees the 2 getting bloodthirsty over some drums & horns while the song “Peter Pop Off” with Rim, Teflon & I-Fresh sees the 3 talking about how they don’t play games is over a chilled out instrumental. Then the closer “Enemy of the State” with Fame as well as Conway the Machine & Guilty Simpson sees the 4 spitting battle bars over a Godly instrumental.

For as long as it took, this was well worth it. Not only are Sean Price’s bars cutthroat as always, but Lil’ Fame reminds us about his skills behind the boards are just as great as he is on the mic. If you’re a hardcore fan of BCC & M.O.P, then you won’t be disappointed.

Score: 4/5

Black Moon – “Rise of da Moon” review

Black Moon is a highly regarded hip hop trio consisting of Buckshot, 5ft & DJ Evil D. Their 1993 debut Enta da Stage would go on to become a hip hop essential & despite their 1999 sophomore effort War Zone not being as acclaimed, it was still solid. Last time we heard from the group was in 2003 with Total Eclipse & all these years later, they’re making a comeback with their 4th full-length album.

The album kicks off with “Creep wit Me”, where Buckshot & 5ft both go at their competition over a piano-inflicted boom bap beat. “Da Don Flow” reclaims Buckshot’s prowess over a slaughterous instrumental while the track “Ahaaa” talks about cops over a g-funk/boom bap fusion. The song “Pop Off” flexes their skills over a boom bap beat with some gloomy horns throughout while the track “Ease Back” with Method Man & Steele go at their naysayers over a vibraphone inflicted boom bap beat.

The song “Impossible” with Smif-n-Wessun talks about how they can’t be stopped over a gritty instrumental while the track “Black Moon Rise” talks about their comeback over a funky beat. The song “Children of the Night” with Rock talks about what goes on during the midnight hours of the hood over orchestral boom bap beat while the track “Glory” makes numerous references to the color black over a mellow instrumental.

The song “General Feva” is a vicious 5ft solo cut while the track “Look at Them” talks about people tryna rob the group over a rhythmic bass-like & some haunting strings. The song “At Night” finds Buckshot & 5ft trading bars back & forth over a somber organ-inflicted beat while the song “Payback” talks about getting money over a funky beat. The penultimate track “Roll wit Me” with Tek gets romantic over a slick boom bap beat & then the closer “Time Flys” gets reflective over a jazzy instrumental.

This is a fantastic return from one of the hardest East Coast groups of all-time. You can really tell the trio all seem really happy to be back together as it really sounds like they never left from the deadly lyricism to the grimy production. Here’s to them hopefully dropping more efforts together in the future.

Score: 4/5

Smif N Wessun – “The All” review

Smif N Wessun are a legendary Brooklyn hip hop duo consisting of Tek & Steele. Their 1995 debut Dah Shinin’ is widely regarded as an East Coast classic & now just 8 years after the Pete Rock] produced Monumental, they’re making their return with their 7th full-length album with The Soul Council producing it in it’s entirety.

After the “Education of Smif-n-Wessun” intro, the first song “Testify” sees the duo looking back at their career over a boom bap beat with a faint vocal sample popping in & out from 9th Wonder & Khrysis. The track “Dreamland” with Raekwon sees the 3 reminiscing on their childhoods over a settle instrumental while the song “Ocean Drive” with Rapsody is a Bonnie & Clyde-esque tune over a keyboard-inflicted boom bap beat. The track “Let It Go” talks about murdering their competition over a boom bap beat with a dinky keyboard-lead.

The track “Letter 4 U” is a dedication to their families over some punchy drums while the song “Let Me Tell” with Rick Ross sees the 3 getting confrontational over an eerie beat. The title track gets boastful about their skills over an ominous beat while the song “We Good” with GQ pretty much speaks for itself over a moody beat. The track “StahfAllah” talks about being cut from a different cloth over a boom bap beat with a quiet-horn lead while the song “Illusions” tells the story of a dumb dude in the streets over a boom bap beat with some eerie background vocals. The album then ends with “1 Time” talks about their legacy over a jazzy-boom bap beat.

Overall, this was a damn near perfect comeback for the duo. It’s focused, the lyrics are insightful & the production from The Soul Council suits them fantastically.

Score: 4.5/5

Sean Price – “86 Witness” review

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Sean Price was a legendary MC from New York City who came up as a member of the Boot Camp Clik alongside Heltah Skeltah & The Fab 5. He released 3 classic solo albums before unexpectedly passing away in 2015 but now, Small Professor has decided to release Sean’s recently unearthed posthumous sophomore album & 5th album overall.

The album kicks off with “Bear Witness”, which is mostly a decent turntablism cut. The next track is the original Heltah Skeltah mix of “Refrigerator P!” that appeared on Sean’s 2017 posthumous debut Imperius Rex while the song “LaToya Jackson” with Quelle Chris sees the 2 boasting about their rapping prowesses over an grimy boom bap beat. The track “Midnight Rounds” with Elucid & Castle is loaded with battle bars over a militant beat & after the “P’s Theme” interlude, we go into the song “John Gotti”. Here, P teams up with AG da Coroner as well as Guilty Simpson & Your Old Droog to get murderous over an eerie beat. The track “Think About It” sounds like it easily could’ve been on his latest Illa Ghee collab EP Metal Detectors & then the final original cut “Word to Mother” talks about how he’s the greatest over some haunting strings. This is followed by remixes of “John Gotti” & “Refrigerator P!”, which don’t really do much for me in all honesty.

Even though this is more like an EP to me, it is a solid listen. There are a few handful of redundant cuts on here, but most of this half hour experience is filled with the gritty lyricism & raw production that you’d usually expect from P.

Score: 3.5/5

Sean Price – “Imperius Rex” review

On the 2 year anniversary of Sean Price’s unfortunate death, Duck Down Music Inc. has decided to release his 1st posthumous album but 4th overall. The album opens up with the title track, where P starts off talking about having sex with his now-widow Bernadette but abruptly stops a few seconds in to speak that “monkey shit”. Very similar to the intro of “Tonight’s da Night” by Redman, but it’s just as hilarious. The Alchemist’s production has these dramatic strings throughout that give the track an eerie vibe to it. The next song “Dead or Alive” sees Sean getting braggadocious about his rapping prowess over a hard hitting beat from 4th Disciple & the hook from Bernadette was actually interesting. The track “Definition of God” then informs the listener about how there’s no one higher than him & Stu Bangas’ production has these eerie synths & piano keys throughout that’re really great. The song. “Ape in His Apex” with his protégé Ruste Juxx sees the 2 aggressively rapping about shooting/stabbing you & how both of them are in their apexes (hence the title) over an organ with some hard hitting drums. The track “Apartheid” has an eerie beat with a fitting Jamaican vocal sample & he gets with fellow Boot Camp Clik members Buckshot & Steele for some unapologetically hardcore degrading. The song “Lord Have Mercy” has this twangy guitar & a sped-up vocal sample throughout & while it’s not as hard hitting as the other instrumentals on the album, it’s still pretty great. Also can’t forget the guest verses from both Rim P & Vic Spencer are just as rough as the opening one from Sean. The track “Negus” with MF DOOM talks about “being a nigga” over an creepy sounding guitar & even though both MCs did their thing on here, I think DOOM’s verse was harder than Sean’s. The song “Church Bells” has a great hook from Junior Reid & the gloomy production enhances Sean’s street bars to make it sound purely evil. The track “The 3 Lyrical P’s” with Prodigy (Rest In Peace) & Styles P has this instrumental from Fraud that kinda has an electronic vibe to it & given the title, the lyricism makes the track live up to it perfectly. After Sean impersonating Funkmaster Flex for a minute & a half on the “Not97” skit, we are then led into the next track “Refrigerator P!”. Here, Sean’s talking about scaring haters & the instrumental has a solid rap rock sound to it. The song “Prisoner” addresses all MCs from the real to the wack over a somber instrumental from Marco Polo & the guest verse from Freeway midway through fits in a lot better than I actually expected it to. The song “Clans & Cliks” is a collaborative posse cut with 3 members of the Boot Camp Clik (Smif-n-Wessun & Sean’s former Heltah Skeltah cohort Rock) & 3 members of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan (Raekwon, Method Man & Inspectah Deck) over a gritty instrumental from Nottz & I can say it truly is a hardcore hip hop fan’s wet dream. The track “Resident Evil” is pretty much gun talk when it comes to the content, but the production truly enhances the ruggedness of it. The penultimate track “Rap Professor” tells the listener to “acknowledge the scholarship” & how he makes “nice rap shit” over a funky bass guitar provided by DJ Skizz. The album closes out with “Price Family”, where Sean talks about fucking shit up & slapping ear rings off a woman over a funky boom bap beat. Hell, the verse from Bernadette about wack rappers needing to get off Sean’s dick & to shut the fuck up were pretty cool as well. Can’t forget how flawless they compliment each other from the leading up into Bernadette’s verse to them nothing rapping together for a few seconds before a sung outdo over some piano keys. While posthumous albums can be hit or miss for me, this one was a home run. The bars are head, the features are all on point, it’s well produced & overall well put together. Not sure if this is the last Sean Price album we’ll ever get but if it is, then he went out with a bang. Rest In Peace to one of the most underrated to ever do it

Score: 4.5/5