Ahoy Me Mateys Captain Cats here! Little Brother, who are they and why I am writing about a group you may never hear of? A better question would be why haven’t you have listened to them? This group was formed back in 2001 in North Carolina with rappers Phonte and Big Pooh and DJ/ Producer 9th Wonder. The Trio were also members of a larger group of underground hip-hop artist from North Carolina and formed Justus League. During the 2000’s this group released two landmark albums back to back with huge praises from critics and these albums are The Listening and The Minstrel Show.
In 2003 Little Brother released The Listening, the group’s first album, which sadly the majority of listeners of hip-hop music never gave this album a chance. The record as a whole, which take place in the fictional radio station WJLR(Justus League Radio) and each song represented how each member of the group and as a whole, how they felt personally to life, production of the album, people that want to used them and most importantly to listener at the time and now. Each song is 100% different in both lyrics and music; no two are the same at all. Take the song “Speed” for example, while the beat may sound like something from a mainstream hip-hop group, the lyrics are basically about the pressures of working a regular job on basic pay rate and trying to survive. Compare this to “Make Me Hot” the beats sound like of something that James Brown would sing to in the 70’s and the lyrics is just a joke on people who bugged them for beats and studio time during production.The link here is from a song titled ” The Way You Do It,” which I believe is the centerpiece of this fantastic and overlooked album; also be warned it does contain strong language.
Like most artist and music groups, if the first album was fantastic, the second album MUST be even better, and that is hard to do. But what happens if the second album was on par to the first album regarding everything and was perfect in almost everything? 2005’s The Minstrel Show, Little Brother second album is that album. This time around instead of WJLR in The Listening, Little Brother made a move to TV with UBN (won’t type what UBN means because it may offend people). The Minstrel Show also had the group talking about topics such as love (Lovin’It), the price of fame (We Got Now), fandom(Not Enough), and what many homes are like( Diary of a Mad Black Daddy and All of You).
Both of these albums have more profound themes to them that most people don’t know. The Listening as a whole is the group’s take on how the music industry in mainstream hip-hop want everyone cares about what’s hot and what’s not and dumb them down while exploiting black cultural. The Minstrel Show is a reference to how black pop culture portraited in both TV and Movies in the USA. Another theme they both have is on how intelligent they are regarding lyrics and the messages each song has, have a listen to “All For You” but be warned it does contain strong language.
Little Brother’s first two landmark albums came out at a time where mainstream hip-hop started to sound very commercialized and sounding way too intelligent for your listeners was look frowned on. Sadly after two more album releases in 2007 with Getback and 2010’s Leftback, the group called it quit in 2010. If I had to describe Little Brother to any other group, it would be a mix of A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Black Star all in one.
So there you go, a first of many groups and artists with albums that have been overlooked for years while still sounding new and fresh. Some of these will be from the USA, while other will be from overseas and in different languages. Let us know what you think about Little Brother, let us know!