One monkey might not stop a show, but it sure can, for lack of a better phrase, throw a monkey wrench into a whole production!
The bad news for Goodie Mob: Estranged member-gone-solo Cee-Lo Brown, or the aforementioned title character "monkey," no longer provides his soulful crooning or infuses his uniquely high-pitched raps within the Goodie mix. The good news, though, is that despite Cee-Lo's absence, remaining Goodie members Khujo, Big Gipp, and T-Mo still know how the show works, and, as they say in Hollywood or on Broadway, "the show must go on." Combining down-South crunk with the funk and spunk that holds Goodie Mob together, "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" is, well, a slam dunk - a temporarily exciting look at a group that made the original Southern sound so different and fresh from the rest of hip-hop.
The truly special aspect of Goodie Mob, much like their Dungeon Family brothers Outkast, is their ability to translucently disguise important messages deep within the catchiness of hard-hitting crunked-up production and Southern drawls. A track like the bouncy Yoda-produced "Shawty Wanna Be A Gangsta" highlights this ability as the down-South boys run through a list of "that's gangsta" situations, which include lines such as, "Now, that's gangsta, To get in a boat and sail the transatlantic to the west coast of Africa and steal some black folk, Bring 'em to a place that mama and daddy didn't know" (not quite, "gettin' skully in the parking lot," a la Shyne).
The melodramatic R&B vibes of "High and Low” ironically features the most low-key production on the album but packs the meanest punch with a dosage of social and racial injustice messages from Goodie. Mario Simpson serenades the chorus adequately as the group proves that, even without Cee-Lo, their R&B-influenced tracks will not suffer or disappear. And "God I Wanna Live," the Mob's soulful celebration of life (and health) continues in the footsteps of the vintage Goodie crew with an added maturity since the days of "Soul Food."
"Play Your Flutes," with a fiery and very suitable verse from Kurupt thrown in (one of his best in recent history, actually), and the guitar-tinged infectious "What You See," which should be able to hold more than a few radio ears, both serve as the new-look group's introduction to the commercial scene where the sky is the limits (with the proper marketing, of course).
Despite their surprisingly smooth ride throughout most of the "show," the group does hit several snags before the curtains close. The overdone-in-rap "In Da Streets" and the disappointing title track "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," where the boys could have taken a moment to at least address the Cee-Lo issue, both drag the flow of the album downwards. Other tracks, such as "Grindin'" (featuring the always out-of-place Bone Crusher) and "It Ain't Nothin' For Us," quickly transform into nothing more than the typical run-of-the-mill Southern songs.
Without Cee-Lo, Goodie Mob could have suffered from a soulless and shallow attempt at regaining their fan base. They could have downgraded their music and focused on getting even with Mr. Brown through the power of rhyme. Instead, Goodie Mob checks all their animosity at the door (with a more than appropriate title) and continues down the Dungeon Family path of good meaningful music. Even with a monkey wrench thrown into the whole operation, the show must go on. And Goodie Mob makes sure that the show does go on. Bravo!