March 17th, 1972 was the day the world was given the gift of Sean Price, aka Ruck, aka Mic Tyson, aka the Grey Hulk. While no one article or video could begin to capture the enormity of the MC’s impact on hip-hop, we still couldn’t let his Bornday pass without properly saluting the man we lost on August 8, 2015.
Over the past week we’ve been bringing you stories we collected from Statik Selektah, Royce 5′ 9″ and Smoke DZA and Harry Fraud, and today we share the words and memories of his partner Rockness, who recorded three albums with Ruck as the duo Heltah Skeltah. Weeks after Sean passed, Rock recorded the tribute track “Da Streets Want Blood,” channeling the pain of his loss into a beat.
“In my world and realm of people, the f*ckin Earth shattered the day P died,” he told us back in November. “After I wrote ‘Da Streets Want Blood’ I couldn’t write anymore. I did not want to feel what I felt again while I wrote that. And I cheated on [that song]. I masked my sad with mad…I took that route.”
But anyone that knew Sean or interacted with him knows that laughing was something you couldn’t help eventually. So after talking about the tribute, we took a little trip down memory lane, stopping to chill on the stoop here and there. We invite you to watch clips where Rock talks about everything from his earliest memory of Sean, running the streets of Brooklyn with him and eventually becoming Heltah Skeltah.
There may be more or less than 10 things in this list that you know depending on how well you knew Sean, but if you don’t know like I know, act like you know like I know…
Happy Birthday, P!
How they first met….
I met Ruck when I was a kid. Our mothers knew each other. Ruck has older memories of me than I have of him. But my oldest memory of him was his 11th birthday party. It was a surprise birthday party. It was his 11th so that mean I was 9. He came in the house and he had a job already. Came in the house looking like a building fell on him. He ain’t have no wack job, this n— was doing work. Came in all dusty. We yelled surprise and he cracked jokes. Sashayed in, went and got out of his work clothes and got his shit together, came out and partied.
But we didn’t start running with each other until later. We was basically play cousins. We saw each other on the train on the way to school everyday. We’d take the 3 train. I would get on at Junius St. and he’d get on at Rockaway. We’d see each other and he’d just crack jokes on everybody except me. That was just the benefit I had of being his play cousin. But we wasn’t runnin’ with each other then. We didn’t start running with each other until we started doing dirt together.
I gotta thank my mans Secko and my mans Will, Scott and Norton. If Norton knew how to rhyme him and Ruck would have been Heltah Skeltah. Them n— was [tight], they’re the ones who brung me to RUCK. I knew Sean. That was in High School.
Becoming Heltah Skeltah…
First we had another name and that shit was corny, so we ain’t gonna mention that. He would never mention that shit. That would be disrespecanizin his memory to say it now cuz he dead…So we had another name it was trash. One day Ruck just walked up, we was in Brownsville somewhere coming from Bristol park on our way to Norton side and he told me the name. ‘I gotta new name for the group. Health Skeltah,’ it means utter confusion. But it also means boomblazay blah. So I was like “I’m widdit.” And we’ve been Heltah Skeltah ever since.
They never liked to perform “Therapy” live
We didn’t like performing that shit. It didn’t have enough adrenaline. We wanted n*ggas banging their heads on the walls when we on stage. We mighta performed it once or twice. For my solo shows I’ve worked it in here and there. “Therapy” was more my doctor visit. He was my assist. So I’d perform it [now]. He ain’t gotta do it.
The DIRT album cover…
We hated that album cover. We ain’t like the way it came out. We tried it tho. With the album being DIRT, we said we can go in two directions, either go for the dirt, or go with the acronym to show what we was saying. And Redman basically murdered everything dirt with Dare Iz A Darkside and Muddy Waters. What you gonna do that’s better than that? So we gonna fuck with the acronym, Da incredible Rap Team, we super heroes. But we didn’t like the finished product, but it was too late. We was stuck with that. [But]I like it NOW.
I felt like Ruck was trying to sneak and make that song himself. [laughs] We was always working on solo shit too and a known fact is me and Ruck didn’t like the same beats. That’s what made all of our album creating processes hilarious. Back in the days when [producers] would give you beat tapes and CDs, and you could take it out and throw it? That shit used to be the most hilarious thing in the world. Now everything is email so you can’t throw your computer and shit.
So I get to the studio and Ruck already has his verse on it. I was like ‘You think you’ slick, huh? I gotta verse [too].’ I listened to the beat and what I heard is a beat he didn’t think I’d like but I said you got me fucked up. So I came up with the chorus. I usually come up with most of the Heltah Skeltah hooks. On his Sean P [solo] shit every time he made a hook he would call me, ‘Ha! I made a hook, n*gga! I made a chorus, B. Listen! Chorus, B! *click*’”
Why they didn’t follow-up 2008’s Magnum Force
We’d talk about making another album but then we’d send each other beats and laugh at [them]. Email come back ‘No, that is for YOU.’ Or he’d email back ‘That is an emphatic 14, 15.’ That was his code for ’NO’ The 14th and 15th letters in the alphabet. But we got some songs, not a bunch of songs. We probably got more than we think.
I remember one time when me and him first started hanging with each other hard body. I remember waking up in my crib, I’m dead sleep. But I wake up with his hand on my head and this is what I see “Aaaah, I got struck by lightning and the the thunda!” I just bust out laughing. This is how ya man wake you up. This is what early friendship was with Sean Price and shit. That’s how you get woke up, with a Fredro verse.
LeFluer La Fla/Fab 5
We made about 10 or 11 songs for that shit (the Fab 5 album). I remember I had a convo with Dru Ha recently where he said one of his biggest regrets in this whole shit was that he didn’t force us to make that album. You can’t force grown men but everyone of us…we was in our 20s but we wasn’t really grown. And I think he knows that. That’s why he considers it one of his biggest regrets…
The name “LeFlaur Le Flah Eshkoshka” as far as the title of it… we did that afterward, that’s when the name came up. We ain’t know we was gonna call it that. That shit don’t even mean nothing, people. Stop asking me. It don’t mean nothing. That was some Sean P shit. When he said “n*ggas be rhyming about nothin/ when I rhyme nothin it sound like something.” Bong.
A Sean Price Song he wished he was on..
I won’t say that I should have been on a lot of em but I say I wish I would have been. “Boom Bye Yeah” is one of them. That’s why it’s part of my show now. I’m not gonna do my own lyrics, I’mma do his. We did it at the tribute show and I’m like fuck it, I’m gonna do that from now on. I love that song.
The tribute show…
That was a bitter sweet night. I got to see Starang and Louisville. Those is my brothers but they don’t live in NY so I don’t get to see them that often. A lot of the shows we do, we do without them. So to see all of the homies there…It’s crazy because Ruck was such a big energy that even though all 7 of us were there and more it felt like only 3 of us was there because he wasn’t. When one of us isn’t there it feels like everyone was there but…Starang or Louis. But that night it didn’t feel like everybody was there. He left a gaping hole. Sean lives on.