Sean Price & M-Phazes - Land of the Crooks

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Sean Price and M-Phazes' "Land Of The Crooks" commands respect not for its size, but for the quality of each verse and beat included.

If you’ve listened to the Hip Hop played on most mainstream radio stations recently, you’ve heard artists brag about “going hard.” Some tout their ability to go hard in recording studios, while others seem to prefer to give it their all in the paint. Brooklyn-based rapper Sean Price, however, doesn’t need to boast about the toughness of his raps; he lets his lyrics, his character and his performances do the talking.

After releasing Mic Tyson in 2012, Price has returned with another project, Land of the Crooks, produced by Australian beat-maker M-Phazes. Set for a December 17 release, the four-track project brings the same mean-mugging aesthetic Price is known for, cause for hardcore Hip Hop lovers everywhere to rejoice and reason for wack emcees to run for cover. Ladies and gentlemen, the Ron Artest of Rap is back.

“P, I will pop your partner, then give your whole squad bricks…Wacka Flacka,” rhymes Price on the EP’s first track, “Bag Of Shit.” Throwing around a slew of punch lines, Price reasserts himself as a lyrically talented emcee; yet, even though he understands that his fame is largely predicated on his hardcore style, he isn’t afraid to have fun with his craft, resulting in verses that are a mix of humor and shots at the Rap game.

It’s almost as if the Loudmouf Choir, who sings the track’s chorus (“The bag with the shit, got shit in the bag”—which would make Billy Madison proud), is interjected periodically only to remind listeners that there’s more to Rap than death threats and body bags.

“Dump In The Gut,” the EP’s second track, is another testament to the multidimensional sound of the collaborative project. M-Phazes, fresh off of co-producing Eminem’s “Bad Guy” from The Marshall Mathers LP 2, breaks up the record with a sample of a line from Big Boi’s verse in UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem,” creating a slow, horn-heavy beat perfect for Price’s methodical delivery. The project’s production is one of its strong points, one which gives listeners a mix of jazzy, hardcore, electronic and ghetto gospel-sounding rhythms to choose from.

M-Phazes is also aided by the signature scratching of Brooklyn-native DJ Babu of Dilated Peoples and The Beat Junkies, who joins in on the title track, “Land of the Crooks,” which features fellow Brooklynites Billy Danze (of M.O.P. fame) and Maffew Ragazino Sr. (better known to some as “Brownsville’s Jesus”). The track, which is being released as the latest single off the upcoming Coalmine Records compilation album Unearthed, serves as the EP’s Brooklyn anthem, with each rapper paying their respects to the storied borough.

In a time when many Hip Hop mixtapes contain over 20 tracks, Land of the Crooks commands respect not for its size, but for the quality of each verse and beat Sean Price, M-Phazes and a slew of guest artists packed into the roughly 18-minute-long project. And for those that disagree, just make sure you don’t tell Sean Price.

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