IS BOOTCAMP CLIK DEAD?

A few weeks ago, I tweeted, “When Sean Price died, the Bootcamp died”, which happens to be a line quoted from a new song off Rockness Monstahs' forthcoming LP. Needless to say my tweet was not received well. Many die hard fans were disturbed by this as was several family members and friends alike. I got calls, texts and direct messages from people expressing their concern. “Was this real ?, could this be true?, what did you mean?, are you okay?, do you need to talk?, etc. Some even asked if this was some sort of publicity stunt to get attention and gain followers.

I understand. I felt the same way when The Fat Boys broke up and when Grand Puba left Masters Of The Ceremony, especially when EPMD split and when De La proclaimed, "De La Soul is Dead". Or when Jay Z announced his retirement right before changing the game with one of his most critically acclaimed projects, Reasonable Doubt, not to mention when Wutang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest were going thru their rough patches. Let's not forget when Nas boldly declared, "Hip Hop Is Dead!" 

There are so many others, I have to save that for another blog, but to put things in perspective, I respect the growth and maturity of all of these individuals and also recognize the courage it takes to admit when things are not working how they used to or perhaps we have just grown up and sometimes even apart. 

Some are able to take this lesson and move on, move up and out to higher plateaus and broader plains, while others become defeated and creatively DEAD.

I think back to when Ruck began to re-brand himself as "himself", Sean Price. He tested it out on us, his friends and family. It was subtle as he didn’t seem 100% sure at first but his courage was admirable and I think being real or should I say brutally honest with himself was strikingly magnetizing and we all became his test lab audience.

We were on a road trip and Ruck had this one song he kept playing over and over, where he just spit one non stop verse and started using his birth name, Sean Price,  starting and ending the song in his now infamous chant, P! Up until then he was just Big Ruck or Ruckus other pseudonyms include The Inflicksta, Ruck The Irrational and The Wanderer. 

We were all intrigued and entertained which was common when dealing with Sean. He was always the way he was and he was one of the Bootcamp members to say, “fck that, watch what I do”.

Sht wasn’t always sweet with The Camp. We had to do a lot of work to solidify ourselves in this industry and to stay together as a family. We are a family but we are also business partners and sometimes that can create a conflict of interest. Families fight and it takes much understanding to deal with such a powerful group of talented minds. 

When Black Moon and Smif-N-Wessun were going thru legal troubles, The Fab Five (Heltah Skeltah and OGC) acquired deals with Priority Records which was the start of Duck Down Records. Dru Ha and Buckshot were constantly working their magic. We've had quite a few good relationships throughout the industry, many of which we still have to this day, it was an interesting ride, a lot of work, a lot of work.

I'm grateful I went thru it with these guys. We've had some rough times and made some stupid decisions on our part but such is the path of growth and maturity. Needless to say I got a cache of wealth of knowledge from this experience. 

We were brothers before we were a band of brothers. I think that helped us stay together longer. We made music, made money and traveled the world together.

We made HISTORY.

When Sean recorded Monkey Bars he was letting us know that he wasn’t waiting for anyone to do what he needed to do. Many of us Bootcampions were going thru some sort of something and all we could do was spectate as Sean blasted pass the finish line. He wanted to win like it was his last race. The rest of us were caught up in the street or office politics, family matters, you name it. 

Sean has a line where he says, “drunk rappers need to grab up a pen, write some ill sht ngga and let the madness began”, I’m sure that he was talking about me, lol. 

We were all at 9th Wonders' spot. Tek and I were there for the first time whereas Sean had been there before so he knew these guys. Needless to say I was drinking Gin with Joe Scudda, Tek was playing Madden but Sean was not in play mode at all, at least not till his work was done. Dru even took a sec to remind me about sticking to the mission at hand. This sparked The Triple Threat campaign.

Bootcamp has always been a brotherhood. Some brothers are more influential and outspoken than others, Sean was clearly one of them. 

He set the tone for a lot of sht and although he was fun to be around in the studio, he was about that business, family and music alike and didn't mind whooping yo ass if need be. 

We all played an intricate role but Sean was an outstanding character that became determined to be successful and carry the responsibility as one of the fathers of the BootCamp Clik. He would say things like, “Sean Price the leader of Bootcamp Clik now”, or “No disrespect to Duck Down Records, after this song I’m looking for the exit”, even to the point of pursuing his inbred label brand RuckDown Records

This all seemed funny but Sean was far from joking. He had a special sense of humor. He is to the Camp what Richard Pryor is to comedy, the self proclaimed David ruffin of rap.

Sean is one of the pillars of The BootCamp Clik, the original starting five. While Black Smif-N-Wessun (Buckshot, Tek and Steele) were out on the road, Ruck and Rock stayed home to train the troops and teach them things we thought were important back then like how to read bars, how to hone your talents and make the dopest sht. This was part of the essence, this was part of the basic training, we preached and practiced three rules: Discpline, Obedience and Patience other lessons were accrued hands on in the streets. 

We shared almost everything, considering that we didn’t have much, our brotherhood made up for what we lacked in material wealth. I was always on my fly Polo wearing sht from High School days in Graphics, some I bought some of which I stole or got on the blackmarket.

Sean and I attended the same High School so we often monitored how fly people dressed. He would later become one of flyest Polo wearing dudes in the rap game even being inducted into infamous LoLife Organization despite being a Decepticon. In High School, some LoLife and Decepticons were known adversaries. Sean was also from Brownsville where many of the original LoLife members are from so he knew the pioneers and they were already cool. 

Sean would be onstage rocking the Polo Flag with the skullcap to match. He would rap lines like, “except Tek none y’all nggas can dress”. Tek was well rounded in fashion. He perfected the Bed Stuy Fly. He knew how to sport high end fashion like it was just some regular sht. Sean and I use to style, meaning we would wear items that would catch the attention. He would always comment when I wore some new Polo to a show, I guess it reminded him of the young Darrell. I think at some point I began to look forward to that friendly competition as it became sort of a brother-hood ritual. He would say, “whats that, Lo?” and I would just give him the look. 

They say steel sharpens steel and in more than many cases it was Sean sharpens Steele and vice versa. This is what BootCamp Clik did for me and the whole brotherhood. We were there for each other when we had nothing. We built an empire from the ground up. We endured many trials and tribulations and now here we are.

This is no publicity stunt, Sean Price is Dead. My brother is no longer here in the physical form and it is a painful reality to accept. I began to express to my brothers that I didn’t want to rap anymore. In all honesty this is something that I have been pondering for sometime before Sean's passing but I will save that for another blog. 

Upon Sean's passing I was emotionally drained. I was angry at all the fake people and the fake love, I was tired of all the bullsht. We busted our ass for this spot, whatever this is. Some call us legends but we’re still right here in the hood with everybody else. Maybe this makes us special or just more vulnerable. Maybe this is why people love Sean. I know why I love Sean and why I love my BootCamp Clik. 

I am forever WWBCC WorldWide BootCamp Clik till I DOA just like Sean Price. The BootCamp Clik is the Great 8 and extended family but Bootcamp is what it always was and what it always will be, a mentality, a commitment to be and do better as an individual and as a collective. This concept will never die. What BCC has produced and released will remain on the timelines of Hip Hop history. 

The BootCamp Clik as you know it, has been transformed into something which I myself, can’t clearly state as of yet. Sean Price is no longer with us.  We are all older and have more responsibilities. Instead of lounging up the hill or on the block, instead of breaking day on Franklin Ave and Union, instead of doing 24 hour cessions in the studio smoking copious amounts of weed, instead of being on the road weeks at a time away from love ones and familiar places, we have succumb to our inherited responsibilities, taking care of the family. This is what grown ups do. 

Sean had no problem expressing his love for his family, namely his wife Bernadette and his children. He inspired men to be men. No we are not perfect but we are men, we are fathers, husbands, brothers and comrades. We are men with faults, fears, hopes and aspirations. I witnessed people gravitate to the realness that was Sean, the realness that sealed the bond of our brotherhood. We were friends until the day he died and till the day we meet again.

Sean Price is one of a kind and irreplaceable. You cannot add another member to the Great 8 to make it whole again. It is what it is. That brotherhood has evolved. We are responsible for ourselves and each other. Most of us have children, extra bills and pay taxes. Most of us are still in the hood. 

Brooklyn has changed, Bucktown has changed, BootCamp Clik has changed. Buckshot once rapped, “change is good”, in a song we did with Aaliyah (RIP) titled Knight Riders. Both of us still struggle with change and loss. We now step into a realm of Bootcamp that we didn’t foresee nor prepare for. As fathers of this brotherhood we are obligated to hold the flag, but what does that really mean? Are the brothers still strong enough to continue the mission? Whom amongst the collective can assume the leadership role as Sean Price did so graciously?

Bootcamp was never about one person but there were times when one had to be stronger for the many and we each had a turn wearing that suit. Maybe this is where we move on. We will always be Bootcamp but The Clik has to evolve in order to preserve the legacy that we sparked when we were whole. We have to be brutally honest like Sean showed us we could be. I would love to hear just one more BootCamp Clik album with Sean but it just wouldn’t be the same. I have to salute guys like the Outlaws, Bun B and Eminem because they were able to go on after losing their comrades. I pray for that strength. 

I know we are all hurting and I know that we all want to do our best, No pain no gain, what we gave to the game that won’t change but in order to sustain we must re-train. Uncover the greatness in ourselves find our personal wealth, expand and grow before we implode, expose your glow and remember BootCamp is more than just 8 nggas at a show.