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PRICE: A new album, working with T-Pain, and life after viral fame

A photo of PRICE.
PRICE. (Courtesy of PRICE)

Over time, some musicians stay stationary. Others evolve.

PRICE is one of the latter.

Fifteen years ago, the California native shot to fame as one half of rap duo Audio Push, whose viral hit "Teach Me How to Jerk" started a dance craze that swept the United States.

Roll forward to today and the 33-year-old is flying solo and about to release his most accomplished and thought-provoking work to date – his fifth full-length album, "C.I.T.Y."

An acronym for "Caught in the Youth," the 12-track project, which features guest appearances from T-Pain and Hit-Boy, chronicles PRICE's life growing up on the violent streets of Inland Empire and how he broke what he calls his "generational curse" through education, friendship, and, of course, music.

Here, PRICE discusses with Rising Rap his solo reinvention and how a devastating loss has inspired his finest hour.

What does the title "C.I.T.Y." mean to you?

Sometimes we get caught in the youth. And sometimes that can be good, but most times, it's bad, you know, just being caught in our past, whether that be reminiscing on things or trying to relive moments.

The album really embodies no longer being caught in the youth and just being present. It's about elevation and evolution in life.

What inspired you to make the album?

It's actually in memory of my cousin who passed away. We were extremely, extremely close. I've always wanted to do something in honor of him and this was the perfect time because of my partnership with Rostrum and having this amazing team that have allowed me to finally showcase this art that I've been putting together and had in my spirit for so long.

Cover art for PRICE's "C.I.T.Y."
Cover art for PRICE's "C.I.T.Y." (Rostrum Records)

From police brutality to gang violence, on the album you not only talk a lot about the struggles of life growing up in Inland Empire, but also on what you've learned from it.

I'm big on solutions. I'm a solution oriented person. So for me, I don't ever want to give people anything, or even just have a conversation, without solutions. So if I'm gonna make an album talking about my pain and my cousin dying, I want to present a solution at the end of it all and showcase the lessons learned from loss. I'm really big on that.

At 12 songs, "C.I.T.Y." is relatively short. Did you always intend for that to be the case?

Absolutely. I'm a firm believer in staying with the times and naturally as humans now, our attention spans have just gone down. So I don't think that it's the wisest thing, at least until you're as big as Drake, to drop albums that are 22 songs long.

I think when you're looking to establish your foundation and a real audience, you want to give them something digestible. Nobody likes a movie that's fucking five hours long, unless it's Harry Potter. So for me, I wanted it to be easy, but effective.

The gospel influence on the album shines through brightly.

I'm a spiritual man and as I'm continuing to solidify my position in the music industry and in the rap game, that's what I want to be known for, fusing the gospel feeling and sonics and message.

Gospel means good news and the chords and sonics of traditional black gospel music are just unmatched. It just makes you feel so good. I feel like those are the perfect beats for me to be telling my story on. I feel like there's not many real, righteous, spiritually elevating, but still quality rappers out there, so that's what I'm aiming for.

On top of the gospel, there's plenty of G-funk sounds too. I must say the fusion isn't something I've ever really heard before, but it definitely works.

That's what I grew up on. I'm from Southern California. I was raised on Dr. Dre, Suga Free, DJ Quik, Snoop, E-40. Those are some of my favourites to ever create so I do my best to input some of those sonics and things that just made me fall in love with music, but while still attempting to create something fresh.

T-Pain features on the second track "Mansa Musa." What was it like working with him?

Man that's my big homie. This is my family, you know. He's always shown love for years and he's just always been so supportive and so genuine. Literally, he's one of my favourite artists of all-time, probably in my top 10 artists of all time.

I always knew that on that song, I would love to do something that people wouldn't even expect from him, so he just pops in out of nowhere for like, four bars. Most people will put Pain on the hook and try to feed off that energy, which I'm not mad at, but for me, I just wanted to do a little something different.

What do you hope people will take away from "C.I.T.Y."?

Well, one, I want people to learn more about me, because the more you learn about a person, the more you become supportive of a person. So for me, I would love for people to just listen to this album and and truly get to know what my heart stands for.

Secondly, I'd like people to listen to some of these moments and realise that there's always light at the end of the tunnel. I want people to understand that you can take losses and turn them into lessons.

PRICE. (Courtesy of PRICE)

There's quite the juxtaposition between "C.I.T.Y." and the song that shot you to fame in 2009, "Teach Me How to Jerk."

Back then, we were just kids just jamming to music and making music, but there was no intention or expectation. We were just making we thought sounded good at the time. But as you go through life and experience more things, you start realising that we all have a calling.

I heard my calling and decided to follow it. I'm at a point in my career where I have creative control over what I put out and what I'm making. I have my own studio, I make my own beats, I record myself. I'm in total control of what's being curated. I don't need to be trying to make a hit anymore. This is the total opposite.

Did having a viral hit make it difficult for people to take you, whether solo or with Audio Push, seriously as an artist in the years that followed? Did they just see you as the "Teach Me How to Jerk" guy?

People still do. Coming out of that, we had to showcase to people that we really make great music or that I really rap at a high level.

It's been hard, but it's allowed me to take the stairs back up, not the elevator. I love using this analogy. Taking the stairs, it's going to take a lot more for me to fall off and not be heard of again versus a person who just blew up out of nowhere with no fight for it. They're in the elevator and they go right back down. So I'm thankful for it.

One year after "Teach Me How to Jerk" came out, Cali Swag District released "Teach Me How to Dougie." Did you feel like they were copying you in any way?

Our team at the time and people from our label we're trying to sue them, but we wouldn't let them. I come from the streets, so that seemed like a form of snitching to me. You know, if they gotta take our song to blow up, it is what it is, that's cool.

It's no question that they were they were inspired from our song, but there was never any hard feelings. If that was to happen today, because I know better, I still wouldn't have sued them, but I definitely would have took a percentage.

Probably would have bagged you a hefty sum, right?

Absolutely. But the idea of suing them left a nasty taste in my mouth. Rest in peace to M-Bone and JayAre.

Lastly, earlier you mentioned your love of Harry Potter. We can't gloss over that.

I love Harry Potter man. I love all the Harry Potter movies. I didn't really read many of the books as a kid because they was too damn big, but the movies I'm crazy about. A perfect day for me is just sitting, eating some fire ghetto food, and binge watching those movies without anybody bothering me.

"C.I.T.Y." will be released on January 26 through Rostrum Records.


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