Jorge Alvarez, better known to the world as Kurious (taken from the children’s book character Curious George), is a Puerto Rican-Cuban rapper from Manhattan. I first heard Kurious in 1993 when he made a quick cameo on Del The Funky Homosapien’s No Need For Alarm (see “Boo Boo Heads”), and that same year he also spit a verse on Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich’s album Dust To Dust (see “3 Blind Mice”). Kurious’ relationship with Pete Nice would play a part in him signing a deal with Columbia, where he would release his debut album A Constipated Monkey.
Kurious would bring along his deejay, Lord Sear (who you can catch on Shade 45 on SiriusXM) and his sidekick Kadi aka the man with the yellow hat (those familiar with the Curious George Book series will get it, but it’s still super corny), who plays a similar but less significant role on A Constipated Monkey that Consequence played on Beats, Rhymes and Life. Kurious would call on the Beatnuts, The SD50’s (aka The Stimulated Dummies) Bosco Money and his buddies Pete Nice and Daddy Rich to sonically shape A Constipated Monkey. The album didn’t move a ton of units but it did receive solid reviews, and is still held in high regards amongst hip-hop heads alike.
I haven’t listen to A Constipated Monkey in years, so let’s see if it still sounds as good as I remember it.
Spell It Wit A J (Yes, Yes Jorge) – A Constipated Monkey starts with some weirdo rambling on in an annoying voice about being “full of shit.” Then what I like to call a “base model” Beatnuts instrumental (which means it’s solid, but doesn’t have all the additional bells and whistles that they have the ability to add to make an average instrumental a superb one) comes in and Kurious uses it to introduce himself to the world. And in case you were curious (no pun intend), he spells his first name with a “J”, not with a “G”.
Top Notch – Kurious must have coughed up a little more bread for this Beatnuts track, cause it has all the bells and whistles that were missing on the previous song. Jorge invites his sidekick Kadi, Psycho Les (from the Beatnuts) and the Frenchmen that A Tribe Called Quest made a song about, Lucien (see “Luck of Lucien” from Peoples Instinctive Travels) the self-proclaimed “French nigga” to join him on the mic. While his guests fail to impress (Lucien actually sounds terrible), Kurious sounds decent; but it’s the Beatnuts crispy clean perfect dosage of slickness that carries this song.
I’m Kurious – Pete Nice & Daddy Rich get their only production credit on A Constipated Monkey, and they make sure it counts, constructing this very serious sounding, but extremely dope instrumental around a slick Blackbyrd’s loop and a Midnight Star vocal sample. Kurious tries to match the track’s seriousness and does a decent job, as he does some reflecting and gets introspective. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on A Constipated Monkey.
Uptown Shit – This was one of the singles released from A Constipated Monkey, and man, does this record bring back good memories. Kurious, The Omen (which is a terrible alias; his verse was mysteriously left off of the video edit and replaced by another Kurious verse) and Kadi represent for Uptown on this one. Again, none of them give us mesmerizing bars, but the Beatnuts’ instrumental is dope enough to carry the song by itself.
Leave Ya’ With This – The SD50’s keep what has sonically been an enjoyable listen so far, enjoyable with this mellow instrumental that Kurious uses to pay respect to KMD’s late deejay (and Zev Love X aka MF Doom’s brother) Subroc. Most of Kurious’ bars have nothing to do with Subroc, as he goes from talking random shit to quickly tying the last few bars of each verse together as a dedication to the fallen deejay, but it’s still cool. I absolutely love the horn loop brought in during the hook (MC Lyte used the same loop on Ain’t No Other’s “Lil Paul”). RIP Subroc.
Fresh Out The Box – The Beatnuts keep A Constipated Monkey chugging right along with more solid production, and average rhymes from Kurious.
Walk Like A Duck – This was the lead single from A Constipated Monkey. The Beatnuts hook up a drowsy instrumental that our host uses to take subliminals at somebody he feels had “vicious” words to say behind his back (as he states in the opening seconds of the song). I hated this song back in the day and I still don’t care for it.
Tear Shit Up – Kurious continues to spew random rhymes over some beautiful Beatnuts production work. That’s all I got.
Baby Bust It – The SD50’s hook up a cool mid-tempo groove, which includes a very catchy vocal sample from the lead emcee of my favorite hip-hop group of all time (I’ll let you guess who). Kurious invites Kadi and Grim Reaper (who would later change his alias to MF Grimm) to join him on the mic. For some reason Kurious decides to take a shot at Marky Mark during his verse (“I think I keep it sharp like a sword, unlike a two-bit punk in his drawers on a Billboard…Calvin Klein’s, no friend of mine”), which doesn’t earn you any street cred (but I definitely think Mark Wahlberg would whoop Kurious’ ass in a fist fight, back then and even more so today). If you know what his beef was about, leave the details in the comments, please. Kadi shows why he’s only a hype man, while MF Grimm delivers the most intriguing verse of the three (I still chuckle at his threat to choke dudes out “like Radio Raheem”…those unfamiliar with Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing won’t get it). All in all a solid song.
Nikole – Bosco Money constructs a beautiful backdrop for Kurious to speak about a girl named Nikole that’s left him heartbroken. This is a very well-crafted song, and probably my favorite song on A Constipated Monkey.
What’s The Real – Hieroglyphics crew member, Casual stops by to tag-team the mic with Kurious. I’ve never been a huge Casual fan, although up to this point I’ve probably only heard him spit on three songs. In the last few years I’ve picked up a couple of his albums, including his debut Fear Itself, that I’ll being listening to for the first time in the next few weeks. He sounds like a less talented version of Del The Funky Homosapien. He and Kurious exchange respectable verses on this one, but I really like the SD50’s jazzy backdrop. This song (mainly the instrumental) sounds so much better today than it did back in the nineties. Time is truly, illmatic.
Jorge Of The Projects – The final song of the evening finds Kurious reminiscing about the Projects that he grew up in, which I found interesting considering he’s from the upscale area of Upper Manhattan…but what do I know? The SD50’s finish A Constipated Monkey strong with a dope rumbling bass line and a beautiful horn loop to warm your heart.
Even though most of his content is juvenile, repetitive and lacks depth, Kurious proves to be a decent emcee on his debut album, but the production work is the shoulders that truly carry A Constipated Monkey. With the exception of “Walk Like A Duck”, the Beatnuts, The SD50’s, Bosco Money and Pete Nice & Daddy Rich string together a batch of great instrumentals for Kurious and his guests to spill their verses over. A Constipated Monkey may not be a classic album, but it’s definitely a complimentary patch in the quilt that made 1994 arguably, the best year in hip-hop.