Jesus Price Supastar

Artist: Sean PriceTitle: Jesus Price SupastarRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jake Paine

For a solo debut album on a shoestring budget and with a name-change, Sean Price's Monkey Barz was the Cinderella story of 2005. Critics championed the effort as Price became the sleeper hit of Duck Down's "triple-threat" that included Smif-N-Wessun and Buckshot. A year and a half later, Price's Jesus Price Supastar (Duck Down) finds the "brokest rapper you know" after he cashed his checks, and as he says on "Hearing Aid," lost it in a dice game. With a sharpened wit and even defter rhymes, Sean Price raises the ante, as one of premier artists in independent Hip-Hop today.

Whereas Monkey Barz accepted straightforward simplicity in its lyrics, Jesus Price is an exhibition of lyrical gymnastics. Assisted by veterans Sadat X and Buckshot, "Da God" uses the many meanings of the term, in seamless rhymes that chronicle routine activities in Sean's life. His wordplay shines, as heard on "Like You" with "Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothin' to f**k wit'/ Boot Camp Clik ain't nothin' to Wu-Tang/ N***as seem shocked by the way that I do thangs / Did a song with Destiny's Child, and I still ride the 2 Train." In an age of keeping it real, Sean Price does so, cracking a joke and smile.

Following the praises of North Carolina production, Jesus Price furthers the collaborations between 9th Wonder and Khrysis, plus gems from Moss and P.F. Cuttin. 9th's show-stealer comes late in the album with the aformentioned "Hearing Aid," a spirited piano chord and drum creation that sounds nothing like what fans of Little Brother are used to. Veteran Tommy Tee provides a futuristic organ and drum composition for one of the album's two Heltah Skeltah (Sean and Rock) collaborations on "Church."

Production played a major role in the interest and appreciation for Monkey Barz. Using much of the same team, it's the lyrics that make Jesus Price Supastar a charged album for 2007. Few artists who write about their lives so vividly can rhyme with the creativity that this Brownsville, Brooklyn MC seemed to find a decade into his career-the passion of Price.