“A degree for my declaration, When saying Sean P say da P with exclamation.”
Those lyrics from “Top Tier” reigned heavy yesterday when several dozen people gathered to mourn the anniversary of the Helta Skelta rapper Sean Price’s death at his mural between Bergen Street and Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights.
Price, born and raised in Brownsville, started his career as a member of East Coast hardcore hip-hop collective Boot Camp Clik alongside future Helta Skelta Jahmal Bush in 1993.
Individually, Price released three albums Monkey Bars, Jesus Price Superstar, and Mic Tyson, all met with critical acclaim. Price joined fellow rappers Royce da 5’9’’ and Planet Asia as a judge on a rap competition series Ultimate MC in 2011.
A Muslim convert, the Duck Down signed rapper dedicated his last couple of years at home with his family before posthumously releasing his mixtapes Songs in the Key of Price and Imperius Rex, which saw guest appearances from Method Man and Prodigy.
Of those that came through the neighborhood to pay their respects, many lit vigil candles, taking pictures in front of the mural, and pouring liquor out of the bottle with respect to the fallen rapper, paying homage to the legacy he left for 90’s hip-hop.
Muralist and artist MeresOne, whose real name is Jonathan Cohen, is responsible for the tribute mural in Crown Heights, where his amazing process was documented in a tribute video by Rugged Vision.
MeresOne used aerosol art to bring to life the late rapper’s portrait, much alike his graffiti vision that spawns over multiple decades, appeared in major blockbuster hits like “Now You See Me”, and graced many international countries like Montreal and Holland.
The mural was the face of a neighborhood controversy recently when false rumors circulated that Daniel Branover, the owner of MEAT, a new kosher restaurant up the street at 115 Kingston Avenue, had ordered the mural painted over to make the block look more “presentable.”
This led to bickering over how covering the mural was rooted in gentrification and lack of respect for African-American culture.
The false allegations grew stronger, and many on social media began spewing anti-Semitic remarks and inciting people to burn the restaurant down and throw bricks through the window.
It wasn’t until it was revealed that the person ordering the mural painted over was the building’s owner, Apolinar Severino, who did so on the advice of a real estate agent to make it easier to refinance his mortgage on the property. Severino reportedly now has second thoughts about whitewashing over the mural.
But yesterday, none of those who came by the mural to pay their respects brought the subject up.
Price, who performed under the alias “Ruckus” in the hip-hop group Helta Skelta, was responsible for many late ninety hits such as “Therapy”, “Operation Lockdown”, and “I Ain’t Havin It”.
He died on Aug. 8, 2015 in his sleep at the age of 43 and is survived by his wife and three children.