Having lost its distribution deal with Priority, Duck Down Records, the home of New York's Boot Camp Clik, was at a low point around the turn of the century. BCC member Ruck's predicament did not fair any better. However, during the mid-2000s, he became one of underground hip-hop's MVPs under the name "[he] chooses to be called when [he's] in front of his moms," Sean Price, and Monkey Barz was vindicating proof of that fact. On this first installment of Duck Down's "Triple Threat" campaign, a collaborative effort with Justus League producers 9th Wonder and Khrysis, Price guides you on a journey of wit, humor, and grime. His deep, commanding voice on the opening track attempts to set a solemn tone for the rest of the album, even though the actual tone of Monkey Barz fluctuates from dead serious to slapstick nonsense. "Fake Neptune" has Price spitting filthy rhymes ("How you gonna sh*t on me/After I let you sh*t on me, freaky deakay") over a beat that does sound like a bootleg version of the Neptunes-produced track by Birdman and Clipse, "What Happened to That Boy." The real question posed is whether or not he can deliver with Justus League productions; the 9th Wonder-produced "Heartburn" offers the best answer. 9th composes a delicate, steady beat with hard drums, a husky bassline, and a beautiful soul sample, and yet Price's "courting" (more like repelling) of his love interest basks in his hardcore image. That peculiar contrast, which is representative of the album as a whole, makes Monkey Barz that more intriguing. Even more captivating is the title track, a rhyme session of jungle rap acrobatics in which his lyrical modus operandi -- the stop-and-flow delivery of clever rhymes and non sequiturs -- is epitomized: "We Mighty Joe Youngin' it/Thuggin' it/Straight from the jungle my brotha/My ni**as, Banana Republican/Orangutan slang/Chewbacca, not proper/Tube socks full of rocks plus the cops watch us, yo." Price clearly knows his strengths. His charisma alone can hold any song together and definitely stands out on tracks like "Jail Shit" where the production is less than stellar. The sexism expressed in some of his lyrics can be a bit off-putting, but by the end of the record, he will still have you chanting the ad libs along with him, "Sean P"!
AllMusic Review by Cyril Cordor
feat: Ruste Juxx