While he passed in 2015 at the age of 43, Price was able to use Monkey Barz as a leaping pad from his group Heltah Skeltah. With production coming from 9th Wonder, Agallah, and Khrysis, the grouping was still tucked in that deep-seated pocket but still creative enough to influence and grace audiences far beyond the Empire State. Opening with “Peep My Words,” Price is the primary narrator here and surprisingly, doesn’t recruit too many guest MC’s on the record. The majority of words spit here comes from Price who sculpts less of a clean-cut and more of a jungle approach to delivery.
The whimsical flutes and strings on “Peep My Words” comes from Kleph Dollaz who sets a concurrent theme for the record. Monkey Barz is a quick walkthrough New York, but in a jungle setting with skyscrapers replaced by giant trees where danger lurks at every second. The old dystopian ways might be missing today, but the concrete atmosphere is a playground for Price to swing through like Peter Parker. Catching ambition over tracks like “Onion Head” where the sample vocals create a pick-up game of mics and men. Describing, “Watch me punch up your face, dig in your pockets, leave you right where you stand. Got a… dime bitch that live in Japan. Black belt, suck dick, chop bricks with her hand. Arigato, Sean Price slick like El Gato…” He continues on to dragon kick through cinderblock as he illustrates, “Sean P the motherfucking all-time great. New York to NC nigga, the all-rhyme state.”
A chorus that forms in from Tek becomes this anthem stance where he shouts, “From coast to coast, he traveled the land. Left footprints In grains of sand, It’s… SSSean PEEEEE!” Essentially, Price is a superhero from the neighborhood on “Onion Head” and while it is one of the more catchy tracks, Monkey Barz is filled with gold-plated classics.
Price describes, “Unconditional love, even if I ain’t with ya. Member I fucked up, you kicked me out of the house? Wait a minute, that was yesterday.” It is impossible not to laugh, especially when Price is able to finish the track by saying, “Fight all day, fuck all night. Ruck ain’t shit but Ruck all right. Love my kids but got no dough, and I love you bitch, I’m letting you know.”
While not his first experience with recording, Monkey Barz is the solo debut that seems to slip under the rug of modern rap. As clever as Wu-Tang and as catchy as Dipset, the reinstitution of Sean Price becomes a treasure nearly 15 years later.