Exclusive Interview: Sean Price on Mic Tyson, the industry and valued opinions
P! Sean Price beats to his own drum. If you’ve kept up with his career, then this should be no revelation. As a part of Heltah Skeltah, Boot Camp Clik and now Random Axe, Price has been keeping himself relevant through hip-hop collectives. Now he’s back with his third solo album, Mic Tyson (which is tough!). While playing with his 2 year old daughter (named Shaun Price), P took the time out to discuss his take on the industry, the time he called Cornell West out, his comedic videos and Mic Tyson – his highest charting solo album thus far.
Congratulations on releasing Mic Tyson. After releasing it, how do you feel about the album as a whole?
SP: Oh, I love it. Shit’s official.
Has anything changed after listening to it after its release? Anything you wish you changed or tweaked?
SP: When I make it, I can never be raw. So sometimes I gotta get used to mixes and the cleaner versions. I love that shit, though.
You’re known to move at your own pace and I really respect that. A lot of people tend to only move the way the industry moves. With the album release, is there any part that goes along with it that you don’t enjoy?
SP: By now it’s routine. I’m used to it. I don’t like any of it besides recording the song and performing it. Everything else is wack to me. But I do know that you have to do this. So I’ve come to accept it. I don’t like it, but you know how it goes. I don’t like a lot of interview because after, like, the eighth one I start sounding like a broken record.
From the first song to the last one, how long did it take you to record the album?
SP: I think one day I was in the studio and did four songs in one day. And then my wife got pregnant and it was high-risk, so I stopped recording. She had the baby and then I took another year off to, you know, enjoy fatherhood. In between, I made a mixtape with Random Axe.
As you’ve said, as far as the fans and the industry are concerned – they’re pretty much irrelevant when you make your music. This might be an odd question, but why do you do this emcee thing?
SP: I’m pretty good at it. For real, I think I’m pretty good at it. To get paid for something you love doing anyway? It’s great. I’m pretty good at it. I’m not the best rapper, but I’m pretty good, though. I’d probably scare the best rapper if we were to go verse for verse.
If it wasn’t for hip-hop, what do you think would be your trade?
SP: I’d probably would have finished college, man. I always wanted to be a mortician.
If you could single out one thing about the industry that would make you have a little more faith in it – what would you change?
SP: Well, I have faith in it. I just know it’s all fake. You know what I’m saying, man? I know these motherfuckers – they’re not your friend. It’s all business. So let’s keep it that way and not pretend. Nah mean? That’s all. Once you understand how a person is, you deal with it. They all fake. It’s cool. I got a great manager. He’ll talk to ya’ll. I’ll just rap.
And that approach has worked for you so far?
SP: Yes. I’m well-informed on everything. I let them handle that. That’s what management is for. Talk to the fake people.
Do numbers matter to you at all? Sales, downloads, video views?
SP: I wanna sell a shit-load of records, but I’m not [going to]. It’s cool. I’m not tripping. It’s not like I’m saying “I gotta go platinum.” Nah. I’m just saying. Whatever I put out, I hope I sell a shit-load every time.
Whose idea was it to shoot the Seanwuar video?
SP: My friend Ike Eyes. We was smoking weed in the hotel and he was like “Yo, man you should be Narduwar man!” Then he did the whole “Seanwuar!” song while smoking a joint.
SP: I don’t know. Maybe. We’re just having fun. Just let me have fun. I don’t take myself too seriously. You know? I’m a cool dude.
Have you ever considered doing improv? I know Cipha Sounds from HOT 97 does improv. Have you considered taking it a bit further into the professional aspect to see what happens?
SP: You know what? You’re not the first person to ask me that. I just don’t think that I’m funny, though. I come up with some funny shit, but I can’t just get on stage and make people laugh. I don’t know. I’ll figure it out.
So your colleagues also have projects coming out soon. 9th Wonder has his two projects with Buckshot and Murs. Alchemist and Action Bronson have a project. Is it a different kind of excitement when you’re coming out with music at the same time that your peers are?
SP: Oh, yeah man. I told Roc Marciano “I’m stuck on 3rd, you gotta bring me home.” And you gotta get Ka’s album, “Grief Pedigree.” Trust me. Grown man bars. He’s gotta bring me home. I’m on 3rd base.
Do you ever worry about outdoing them when you’re recording or is it that all to the side?
SP: You know, everybody wants the best verse, but all of my verses official. I don’t care if someone’s got a better verse as long as my shit’s official. I remember doing “Chewbacca” for Random Axe. I walked in the room yelling and went right in the booth. I was vibing. Then Guilty walked in right behind me and spit some stupid shit and I was like “oh man, he just ruined my whole day” (laughs). As long as the song is good. Clearly, we both got busy on that track. So it’s not like “let’s try to out-rap each other.” It’s more like “let’s make a good joint.”
Besides your own standards, is there anyone else’s approval who you seek? Is there someone else’s opinions that you take to heart?
SP: I like to play my album for Buckshot and Steele before it comes out. I’ve known Steele since I was 10 years old. I respect Buck’s ear. I want him to listen to it. They don’t like everything. They like 99% of it, but they don’t like everything (laughs). No hard feelings. We just want good songs. If that ain’t a good song, then we move on. That’s all. I don’t fall in love with these songs either. Once they’re done, they’re done. And we move on.
Where do you think your outlook on the industry stems from?
SP: When I first came into the game I was young, gullible, naive. I got played …not even played – I learned a lesson: Nobody’s your friend. Nobody’s your buddy. It’s just business. I remember when they signed Rock to Priority as a solo artist. So he took me to L.A. with him. He was still on the label that Heltah Skeltah was on, so he took me with him. I walked in there and the lady that worked there. She used to work in the video department. She was wild cool with all of us, man. I guess Rock went into one office and I was walking in with another guy I knew. He was always cool. I went to see him and she started asking me questions: “What are you doing here?” I was like “Damn!” And it’s not like I was hostile.
I was never hostile to the lady, but she thought I was trespassing. It’s cold, man, but it is what it is. I ain’t trippin’. So that’s why I move how I move. Every time I see an old radio host I ask them if they remember my name. I ask them all that. They called me Sean Prez. I don’t know who that guy is, but God bless him. We don’t look alike, I bet. That’s how fake shit is.
A little while ago you tweeted about Cornell West and you called him a “puppet like the rest of them.”
SP: I called him a devil.
Do you think that there’s someone out there who is out there who isn’t a puppet? Do you think he doesn’t care or do you think that he’s a tool?
SP: You know what? He had a speech one day and he said something that I didn’t like. So I ran off at the mouth. I clearly have no evidence that he’s a devil or drinks the blood of goats and shit. I actually wrote him back and said “I should respect my elders. I apologize.” I wrote that back.