Heltah Skeltah: The Odd Couple

Most noted for their natural chemistry and charisma, clearly evident on their stunning 1996 debut Nocturnal, Boot Camp Clik’s Heltah Skeltah have always managed to stand out from their competition in the ever-fickle rap game. After several years spent as solo artists and working loosely with the BCC, the dynamic duo releases their long-awaited third album, D.I.R.T: Da Incredible Rap Team (Duck Down) on September 30th. Ready and reloaded with their first offering as a duo since 1998’s Magnum Force, Ruck and Rock talk make-ups, break-ups and why nowadays everything (not just Hip-Hop) is helter-skelter.AllHipHop.com:  How are you? I heard you shot a video today for the first single for the new album, how was that?Ruck aka Sean Price: We shot “Everything is Heltah Skeltah”Rock aka Da Rockness Monstah: It was fun, we managed to get all our shots in before the rain started.Heltah Skeltah “Everything is Heltah Skeltah” Video from D.I.R.T.AllHipHop.com: When you split in 1998, Heltah Skeltah had just been nominated for a Source Award and had heavy street buzz. Why break up?Ruck: We ain’t really “break up.” N****s was on missions. We wasn’t too happy with our parent label, Priority. We’re grown men with families to take care of. It was all love but it was just every man for himself. Basically, it was like, “If your s**t works I’ma come with you and if my s**t work, you gon’ come over with me,” that’s all. It was a battle move.Rock: We got put in a predicament by labels, so we split up to see what else was rocking. Duck Down is our family but other labels don’t really give a f**k about nothing else but a dollar bill.AllHipHop.com: When and who decided to make the re-connection in 2005?Ruck: That was my solo album. And even though Rock was always around, I was the first out of Heltah Skeltah to drop a solo album so naturally Rock was gonna be on it. Same thing if he was to drop his album first. So it could have went the other way easily.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures. I figured the same energy I could put into hustling I could put into my music.” —Ruck a.k.a. Sean Price

AllHipHop.com: Sean, you’re one of the most consistent NYC underground MC’s and have had a lot of solo success…from cracking Billboard charts to releasing critically-acclaimed mixtapes. Describe your work ethic and how you did it.Ruck: Ah, how did I do it? (Pause) I don’t know. [It was] God, man. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I figured the same energy I could put into hustling I could put into my music. You put that work in and hopefully get rewarded for it. So far so good.AllHipHop.com: Your solo work has done a lot to keep both Heltah Skeltah and BCC’s names alive.Ruck: I was saying to Rock earlier, Monkey Barz, Jesus Price, Master P and all that, that’s the set-up for Heltah Skeltah. This new Heltah Skeltah album, D.I.R.T. is gonna set up Rock’s solo album and all the things he got set up next.Rock: Everything is a step to the next. You put one foot in front of the other and go from there.AllHipHop.com: Sean P, you have always had vulnerability in your music where you can be humorous yet real. How do you stay so grounded?Ruck: I don’t live in fantasy world, nah mean? You got real life, then you got this Hip-Hop image. I’m here to let you know it’s an image. When I make songs like “Brokest Rapper You Know” or “Mess You Made” those are real songs ‘cause that’s really me. I try to keep it all me on the records. I bring across the humor, the hardcore, self-deprecating humor cause if you can’t make fun of yourself how you gonna make fun of anyone else? People seem to dig all of that.Sean Price “Mess You Made” Video from Jesus Price Superstar (2007)AllHipHop.com: Whenever you work as a team do you ever feel like two heads are better than one? Rock: A lot of times it feels like it’s so easy we cheatin’ (laughs). I already know this n***a is gonna bring 150%. He gon’ bring that every time and he knows that about me. It’s like, “I already know he got the second verse, that’s taken care of.” Or I don’t need a first verse cause I know he got that.

“Don’t nobody in Heltah Skeltah wanna be the wack n***a on a song.” —Rock a.k.a Da Rockness Monstah

AllHipHop.com: Heltah Skeltah seems to have a Cold Crush Brothers chemistry where you have confidence in each other and know when to shine and fall back.Rock: True but don’t get it twisted. Don’t nobody in Heltah Skeltah wanna be the wack n***a on a song. But I agree. Sometimes it’s more important for it to be a team effort and let each other shine.Heltah Skeltah "Operation Lockdown" Video from Nocturnal (1996)AllHipHop.com: Can you describe each other’s strengths and weaknesses?Ruck: Rock’s strength is his chorus game is phenomenal. What he lacks? His punctuality is the worst! When you look up “CP time” in the dictionary, it’s a picture of him. (laughs)Rock: Sean P’s strength is that no one thinks like him. Even my mother says that about him. It makes for some of the best lyrics ever, because the s**t he’s thinking no one else is thinking. As far as his weak points, he can’t do a chorus to save his life. (laughs) Oh yeah, he did one on ‘F**k Dat Rapper” and I was just as surprised as he was. (laughs). But son is a good dude. We just learn how to turn our weak points into strong points. Me, I know my punctuality sucks so I got my Magnum P.I. n****s on the scene, checking the scene out before I’m on it, you know?AllHipHop.com: Rock, let’s talk about your mixtape Shell Shock. You’ve been getting a lot of love in the streets.Rock:Shell Shock is all part of the set-up for D.I.R.T, Heltah Skeltah’s new album, which is all part of the set-up for Monster Music, my solo album. I got Shell Shock the DVD; everything is a set up for the next move.AllHipHop.com: Prior to the release of Shell Shock, you were released on bail regarding your legal troubles…is the outcome looking positive on that?Rock: Yeah. I mean like it really is. It’s a slow process and I’ve seen the process with a lot of dudes, and its’ always a slow process. Trust and believe, Rock is not guilty. AllHipHop.com: What is the biggest reason a lot of duos split?Ruck: Money.Rock: Yeah.Ruck: It might not even be the money, sometimes you just get tired of person. Like, back up and give me some space”, nah’ mean? (Laughs)Rock: You know. Like, Ruck ain’t my first best friend. (laughs). We go through stages. And you never know what life has in store for you or where you gonna end up at. Like I grew up with certain dudes, but a lot of them ain’t here. And they ain’t all locked up or dead either. They just grow up and grew on. You gotta respect that; people change and move on. Change is good.AllHipHop.com: Is understanding that people change the key to staying together as a group?Rock: Hell yeah! I could say this about me and Ruck, we don’t like people in our faces all the time, not even each other. I don’t want to see yo’ ass every single day. Cats got bills, visions and things they gotta do on their own, as a man. People need to allow each other their space to be them.AllHipHop.com: Men seem to understand that better than women. I think if you two were girls you would have been fighting a long time ago. (Laughs)Rock: True. I always laugh at girls because they never seem to have real good friendships. Very rarely you see that. You and ya mans meet a chick and the first thing you wanna know is, “Where your friends at?’ (mocking a female’s voice) “I don’t really have any girlfriends.”(Laughs)Ruck: My wife is semi like that, too. She doesn’t have too many girlfriends.Rock: Yeah, I know that’s what it is. Like, I think females ain’t as honest with each other as males are with each other. With us, it’s so much deeper than that. We friends ‘cause our mothers introduced us to each other, like we was “likkle youth”. Before the rap s**t, we did other stuff together. Like if one day son stop rhyming, or whatever the case may be, that’s gon’ still be my dog. Basically nothing that has nothing to do with music can stop me and Ruck from being friends.Boot Camp Click "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka" Video