Monkey Barz

Artist: Sean PriceTitle: Monkey BarzRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Orisanmi Burton

You may remember Sean Price as one-half of Heltah Skeltah, the duo that helped cement Boot Camp Click’s legacy in the early 90s (see Nocturnal, Chosen Few, Magnum Force). During this period, the collective amassed a cult like following among Hip-Hop heads who favored their raucous underground sound to the antiseptic feel of popular radio rap, which in the mid-90s became increasingly monotonous and formulaic. When the multi-faceted crew’s dominance quietly began to fade, a slew of self-anointed saviors attempted to carry the banner in the name of “Real Hip-Hop” by producing Hip-Hop that was less and less accessible. Boot Camp may have been the unwitting forefathers of the underground, but they have always been more about rocking the mic than preserving an image.

With his solo debut, Monkey Barz (Duck Down), Sean P. shows and proves that there is still space in the industry for the Click in 2005. Monkey Bars is a barrage of syllable debauchery, playfully narrated over boom bap beats. For sixteen tracks, Price exerts his poetic prowess on topics ranging from his strained relationship with wifey (“I Love You (B*tch)”) to the plight of being a working class MC (“The Brokest Rapper You Know”). Peep “Fake Neptune” and find Price and his cohort of usual suspects - Buckshot, Steele and Louisville sparring over a Pharell and Chad inspired head nodder. With the last verse Price proves his rhyme proficiency with his humorous conversational flow: (“I ain’t playin no more/ f*ck holding back, what I’m savin it for. . ./ Bisexual burners both ways with the biscuit/ hit n*ggas and b*tches and occasionally infants”).

The Beatminerz trademark grit is noticeably absent from behind the scenes, but don’t expect any lackluster beats here. 9th Wonder, Khrisis and PF Cuttin are among those crafting the sounds for this album. And they supply a lucid arsenal of bangers, on which Price displays his underrated vocal styling. Disgruntled Hip-Hop heads who still bump Enta Da Stage, Da Shinin and Nocturnal will certainly recognize that Monkey Barz is right in line with the Boot Camp pedigree.