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    Before even discussing the music, it is worthwhile to note that Goodie Mob’s latest release is one of the most aptly titled albums to come out in a long time. When the group first jumped out onto the national hip-hop scene in 1995, they already had a monkey on their back– no matter what T-Mo Goodie, Big Gipp and Khujo Goodie came up with on the mic, they were constantly overshadowed by the brilliant vocals of the group’s standout member, Cee-Lo. When Cee-Lo bounced from the group in order to pursue his solo career in 2001, it seemed to many fans that Goodie Mob was pretty much done.

    But the less interesting their new album might seem to those who judge books by their covers, the more shocking it is when it is actually listened to. The album title proves itself to be appropriate as the absence of Cee-Lo allows the rest of the Mob to shine as a collective, and arguably, for the first time it is possible to praise the group for its chemistry. Its sound has evolved, more mature version of 1999′s World Party, a record that was almost universally panned. But in today’s hip-hop world, it is actually refreshing to hear ATL music with meaningful lyrics that can actually be described as “crunk.” The limited amount of Organized Noize production allows One Monkey to have a unique sound that for once isn’t under Outkast’s shadow.

     If you’ve heard any of this album yet, it is probably the closing track, “Play Your Flutes”. It differs from the rest of the album in that its guests are what make the song fresh, but it also carries a chill-out vibe that permeates One Monkey, even on its most energetic tracks. The simple production allows Sleepy Brown to craft a hook that is catchy without being annoying. Kurupt also comes through with a surprisingly fresh verse, sounding great and kicking some terrific rhythms. The Mob does their thing as well as they do throughout the album, but it’s clear from “Flutes” that they still don’t compare to top-level hip-hop talent.

     What they do extremely well is incorporate current pop trends with their pre-existing styles in a convincing way. “Shawty Wanna Be A Gangsta”, for example, features a drum machine track that’s clearly influenced by the now-fashionable style of hip-hop and a falsetto hook straight out of the Neptunes recipe book. But the Goodie Mob sound is far from biting, as the emcees maintain the styles they’ve had since they first came out. You’re not going to hear ironic lyrics like “Assassinate your sons, take your oil and your land, understand that’s a gangsta / steal millions from the blue collar children, that’s a gangsta / five billion on the beach with tall ceilings, that’s a gangsta” on any Lil Jon songs anytime soon.

     People who like thought-provoking hip-hop lyrics have always appreciated Goodie Mob, but their new album has a more universal appeal– you can also zone out to this album or get moderately crunk with it (which cannot be said about 1995′s Soul Food, as great as that album was). It’s not going to stand the test of time, but it is an excellent summer album that has more than a little bit of replay value. The show might not be quite as fresh without Cee-Lo, but it’s still entertaining.

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