August 8, 2015, was the greatest day of my life. That was the day my wife and I welcomed our daughter into the world, and although the fleeting UK summer is usually done by August, the sun was shining brightly in London that day.
In the space outside of our baby bubble, Sean Price died.
The passing of a man I’d never met was obviously not going to overshadow the birth of my child, but the loss of such a bright light from a culture I’ve loved almost my entire life still resonated somewhere at the back of my mind.
The news began to fill up my Twitter timeline during the early stages of labor. In between counting early contractions and panicking about how this parenthood thing was actually about to go down for real, I devoured as many articles as I could about the man who liked to call himself P. It’s what I’d done exactly two months earlier when Pumpkinhead died, what I did a year later in 2016 when Phife left us, and what I had to do again just a few weeks ago in June when we lost Prodigy.
Two years on from that day and my daughter is a walking, talking little person, full of life. I’m even occasionally allowed to dress her in a De La Soul ‘1 Foot High & Rising’ t-shirt I managed to persuade my wife she needed.
Sean Price is still gone, but his legacy remains thanks to various tributes, guest verse appearances for other artists, and an endless run of music videos filmed in front of his memorial wall in Brooklyn.
Few have done more to keep his spirit alive than his label, Duck Down Records, who today release a new Sean Price album, Imperius Rex. The Alchemist-produced title track was predictably good, and with featured guests including DOOM and P’s Boot Camp Click brothers Buckshot and Smif-N-Wessun, it’s poised to be a worthy reminder of how good SP could be when he was busy competing against his peers on the mic.
In a painful twist of fate, the latest single is colored with extra sadness; The 3 Lyrical Ps features Styles P and Prodigy. For two of the three emcees on this record to somehow both be gone, each of them only in their early 40s, adds a poignant extra layer to the track.
I’ll be too busy celebrating my daughter’s 2nd birthday to think about Sean Price today. But I will buy the album, in some small way to help support P’s family, but mostly because it’s probably going to be dope.
Life and death are inevitable, but music is a force powerful enough to work as a celebration of both. Every record in my collection holds a story of exactly where I was in my life when I made the purchase. When I come to slot Imperius Rex into my meticulously arranged racks, it will forever be a reminder of how my life changed for the better on that day in 2015. And that’s not a bad way to remember Sean Price.