January 31, 2024. Manhattan, New York. —I came to the knowledge of PRICE on Wednesday, January 24th, 2024 at The CABIN NYC, Manhattan New York where he hosted his exclusive listening session. The Cabin, a quaint venue, opened their doors and greeted myself and several media personalities to a low lit and intimate setting. The Cabin, a cozy eatery with wood paneled walls, infinity mirrors reflecting birch trees, and leather banquettes lining the perimeter of the restaurant greeted us with two warm host, h’oeuvres and beverages as we waited in anticipation for the man of the hour. An ambiance of familiarity set the tone for the private listening session for ‘C.I.T.Y. (Caught In The Youth)’, a new album that released on Friday, January 26th, by multi-hyphenate producer, songwriter, rapper and Rapreneur, PRICE.
‘C.I.T.Y.’ comes as a follow up project from PRICE’s introductory projects, ‘CLRD’ & ‘FOES’, both garnering over a million streams with high probability that ‘C.I.T.Y.’ will surpass both installments in his discography. PRICE offered a live performance that was personable and impressive and encouraged us to listen to the project in its entirety upon release; and what we didn’t realize we’d be experiencing is PRICE’s vulnerability and true expression through his healing and processing from the loss of his cousin while aligning himself to be a community and familial healer.
For those new to PRICE as a talent, the prolific songwriter hails from Inland Empire, CA and has paid his dues in the industry, notably recognized as a gifted Lyricist, Songwriter, Producer and Programmer whose penned hit songs for artists such as Travis Scott, Brandy Norwood and more. PRICE has co-written songs with legendary talents that include but are not limited to, Jill Scott, Mariah Carey, Wyclef Jean, Kanye West, Hit Boy, TI, Lil Wayne, Ty Dolla $ign, H.E.R., Lucky Daye, Wale, Rick Ross and many more. Encompassing ranges of sounds and influences that he’s acquired through collaborating and producing for other artists, PRICE also infuses technical prowess and versatility of style in his delivery and vocal arrangements.
‘C.I.T.Y. (Caught In The Youth)’, serves as an ode to PRICE’s late cousin, affectionately known to his peers and colleagues as, ‘BIG CITY’. The album hits his listeners with 12 tracks (37 minutes, 23 seconds) of what sounds like the Holistic side of Hip Hop. With sacred chants and ancestral offerings in sound, the word “Asé” echoes behind the narratives presented in spoken word and compliment the transition of each song. The album also serves as a reminder to leave the past behind, let tomorrow take care of tomorrow, and enjoy the present. With strong themes of community, family, love⸺fraternal, romantic, platonic and regional, C.I.T.Y. is raw and unfiltered peering into the mind, life, trials, and triumphs of PRICE. PRICE self produced a large portion of the album except for a few clever assists from PRICE’s longtime friend and GRAMMY award-winning producer, Hit Boy on ‘PROUD’, as well as four tracks from two-time GRAMMY nominated R&B record producer, Darhyl Camper. The project also includes features from T-Pain, Alex Vaughn, and Tish Hyman.
On the opening track, ‘CAUGHT IN THE YOUTH’, PRICE offers an array of transitions in delivery and sound, both with an empowered focus to become a “generational cure” aiming to heal the legacy of brokenness, pain, incarceration and drama that tends to follow black men and the members of the black community. “I refuse to get caught in the youth,” he repeats on the hook of the song, sweeping his listeners in with its catchy appeal; knowing that becoming a statistic of crime, violence or death would not be the legacy he plans to leave behind and that can be avoided with better choices.
“They thought I’d be dead by 25…Jokes on you, I’ve got Angels by my side/ Brown skin with a heart full of pride, Mansa Musa, I feel like the richest man alive…” on MANSA MUSA (featuring T-PAIN), PRICE offers an empowered swagger on the bouncy-track with head nodding rhythms. Malaya, the daughter of the late beloved, follows up as the song fades out, declaring her faith in her new ancestor, and that her father is ever present with her in this waking life. Throughout the progression of the album, PRICE takes us through his internal landscape by way of song, each track like a piece of patchwork of expression that allows us to witness how the loss of his cousin impacted his outlook on life, to his newfound spirit of gratitude and fortitude and how it simultaneously holds him together.“I Rejoice, I rejoice; some might say I’m cool, some say I’m crazy, I’m just trying to flow like God made me…crown myself, finally found my voice…” , on ‘REJOICE’, the liberated PRICE expresses that he intends to have a life full of wonderful things because he intends to focus on the positives in life, all while accepting himself and life for what it is and all it brings.
On ‘SAGGIN AND BRAGGIN’, the artist comes in embracing purpose as well as setting his boundaries as he actively seeks to draw peace into his life and claim all the blessings that he’s worked to earn for him and his loved ones. “Need a machete and a little headspace (For what?) /Just so I can cut off all the dead weight (cut em off). / I’m Rialto where they’re Toe Taggin’ (yeah)/Pants ain’t low when I tell you that I’m saggin’/ Walked in like hotshot/Ain’t no time for being humble…”; it’s evident that PRICE is on a mission to hold his head up high and walk confidently in this world, realizing and fulfilling his dreams every step of the way, while carrying his family legacy on his back. On ‘CUZO’, a playful and lighthearted ode, PRICE pays homage to his existing cousins that relate to him like brothers and sisters, shouting out all the amazing things each one has influenced and brought to his life.
The song that tugs viciously at the audience’s heart strings is ‘PROTECTED 2’. This song illustrates the vulnerability and fears of a black man as he struggles to navigate this world in which he lives. PRICE makes a heartfelt plea in his song as he repeats, “..so yes its true, we need black men to be protected too…just let my message through…born in a system built to pressure you…so yes its true, we need black men to be protected too…//
Black men step out side but coming home never’s been promised…the ones that said we all equal have never been honest….they took our male ancestors/put their hands behind their backs and made them watch them rape our women, real mental attacks…” this beautiful musical installment shines a light on the concerns, historical and present day, that anyone who’s ever loved, cared for, or adored a man of color, feels; from the desire to protect them from external harm and fear to the yearning to bring them peace of mind in all things. In ‘PROTECTED 2′, PRICE becomes a voice for men who want to cry out and say, “we matter and we need to be shielded too”, it serves as a reflective piece, a call to action and a somber question , “How will you, the listener, protect black men?” in day to day life.
As the project nears its ending, BIG CITY’s son, Marlon, reflects on the loss of his father through his grief stating that he wishes God took other things from him instead, like “his bike, his Xbox, Supreme hoodie, or even his basketball court …but not his dad”. Songs like ‘REPO MAN’, shows PRICE lamenting, displaying his sadness and disappointments from his loss of family and friends. Though heavy ladened with harps and lyrical punchlines, he is skilled enough to neutralize the weightiness of this theme with catchy hooks on genre-bending instrumentation and arrangements in other follow up tracks like PROUD and BLESS. PRICE displays his skills by creating a formidable and cohesive sound, unique to his brand, and universal in its appeal. The influences of sound found in this compilation range from gospel; to blends of Progressive Soul/R&B found on the endearing chart-topping single, ‘CREAM OF WHEAT’ featuring the soulful songstress, Alex Vaughn. “I don’t think you know just what you mean to me…I don’t think you know just what you mean to me…skin shea butter smooth you feel like cream to me…sweet as apple oatmeal, sweet as cream of wheat…” The love ballad, CREAM OF WHEAT, offers a tender landing place for PRICE and his listeners who know love is what we need to heal and navigate in a world that takes much from us on a daily basis. ‘HARDT ST’ is another sensual song that appeals to PRICE’s love for his object of affection, reflective and tender; PRICE declares his love and devotion to his beau, in promises that he has eyes for only her. What’s refreshing about these songs placements is that they are void of bashing his female counterpart, exhibiting his progressive stance and active approach to celebrating women in his life, community, and normalizing loving his woman, openly.
What’s ever present in this project as a whole is that it’s anchored and does not stray away from his authentic voice as an artist; and PRICE is skillful in his ability to keep his audience engaged in the continuity of his songs by way of talent, range and versatility. PRICE does not allow his eclectic flare to interfere with the continuity of sound or messaging in his album. What I appreciate about PRICE’s expression on this project is that he’s woke, but not so far open that he isn’t relatable. I appreciate that he does not deny his humanity, his journey, his heartbreaks, losses, the career rejections, and his ambitions that powered him through to where he is today in his success. What listeners will equally appreciate is that PRICE never veers off the course from reality, and he is still aware that he needs to move through this life with the self discipline, focus, leveling up and a healed community in mind. While it’s evident that PRICE’s passion is music, its also obvious that he is fueled by his childhood experiences, familial trauma, spirituality, and the desire to positively impact his hometown. He is clear in his intent, motivation and driven by his desire to be a generational cure for many. Its just as PRICE offers on his song, ‘WRITEOUS’, “…no longer care to debate who Christ is/ I’m more concerned with bringing people to where the light is/ and making sure no more of my bros get indicted…”
PRICE aims to live better, be better and bring people to the light of truth and personal freedom. It’s safe to say he’s begun to shine his light through his new album, ‘C.I.T.Y’. I highly recommend this palpable and transparent body of work, as a new layer unfolds with each listen, and respectively, with every spin of every song, it gives me comfort knowing that for Malaya, Marlon and PRICE’s sake, that BIG CITY can live and breathe through PRICE’s musical expression.