Author Topic: Little Brother - The Listening  (Read 523 times)

On The Edge of Insanity

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Little Brother - The Listening
« on: April 06, 2004, 03:24:23 PM »
Little Brother - The Listening
ABB Records
2003

I feeling I had the first time I listened to this album was similar to what I felt when I first heard "All Souled Out" by Pete Rock & CL Smooth or "Step In The Arena" by Gangstarr. I knew that from this album Little Brother were going to be a consistent fixture in my cd player for years to come. Having downloaded a couple of tracks from the net, I had decided to order this album but everywhere seemed to be out of stock, until I came across a second hand copy in a local record store and was able to pick it up for 7.99, just a couple of months after it was released. The album had been receiving a fair bit of hype on the internet so I was anxious to see if it would reach the expectations that I had for it, and I think I can safely say that it did.

Morning - The intro to the album, and the beginning of the radio theme which runs throughout the album. The DJ introduces us to Justus League radio, "the future of hiphop music", before the opening track kicks in:

Groupie Part 2 - Compared to the tracks I had downloaded before purchasing the album, this track was a little harder than I had expected. However after a few listens I started catching onto this track and realising just how dope it actually is. Phonte and Big Pooh tale their tales of groupies, while a Nate Dogg soundalike brings a feeling soulful feeling to the chorus. His singing is juxtaposed with Cesar Comanche's (according to the booklet) "calm, soothing vocals of encouragement", which are anything but calm and soothing. Overall a really dope start to the album. 4/5

For You - The second track on the album, and it impresses straight away with an amazing beat, which the two emcees can't really fail to rip. The track keeps your head nodding throughout, and their rhymes about everything from rappers faking wealth, to sounding wack contribute to make this a classic track. 5/5

Speed - I think this track epitomises what Little Brother are all about. 9th brings a crazy beat, amazing bass, ambient background and a Bobby Womack vocal sample which you just can't get out of your head. But don't think the emcees are gonna let 9th win that easily. Their rhymes about the struggles of balancing a full time job and trying to do music complement the beat perfectly, and the hook just draws you in even further to the track. Listening to this track is almost like being in your own little world, because it creates the atmosphere of what they are trying to create to perfection, and for that it could never get anything less than a 5/5

Whatever You Say - A more lighthearted track than its predecessor, tackling the subject of girlfriends, and how their approach is just to sit back and chill, just agree with the girlfriend, and stuff like that. The beat is once again top notch, but although I do like this track, it isn't quite on the level of what has gone before it. 3.5/5

Make Me Hot - The first time I heard this track I was laughing for ages, because its pure comedy. Phonte sings (yes sings) about the subject of rappers/singers who are wack but think they can be hot by getting a beat from the latest hot producer of the time. Its pure comedy, and truth be told Phonte is actually a pretty dope singer on the low. 4/5

The Yo-Yo - Another chill track, which Phonte and Pooh rapping about women who are in it for the fame, and rappers who don't have any substance. The beat is once again dope, with the sort of soulful bassline which is found throughout this album, and altogether this track is another dope effort. 4/5

Shorty On The Lookout - this track features Median from the Justus League. Once again the beat gets your head bopping within two bars, with the vocal samples on the chorus being particular addictive. The way Phonte and Pooh flow into one another really does remind me of some of the classic hiphop tag teams such as EPMD, and is truly brilliant to behold. Median also comes pretty tight on this and overall its another very dope track. 4.5/5

Love Joint Revisited - this track is definitely one of my favourites on the album. Its seems to be a little faster paced than many of the tracks, and the bassline really gets you pumped up. The two emcees are almost beyond dope on this riding the beat perfectly and coming out with plenty of amusing quips such as:
"I love macho man randy savage, screaming elizabeth come and take a ride on my slim jims (oh yeeah!!)"
To see a group not afraid to reference things that most rappers would never even think of using in rhymes is truly refreshing and is one of the main qualities that really endears Phonte and Big Pooh to listeners. Overall, this track is a total classic in my opinion. 5/5

So Fabulous - This track has some of the dopest horns every seen on a hiphop track, and truly starts to establish 9th Wonder as the heir to Pete Rock's throne. The two emcees are once again dope on this track, and with their impressions of Kool G Rap and a classic hiphop break put into the mix, you can definitely see that they are truly in love with hiphop themselves. Another dope track. 4.5/5

The Way You Do It - This track features the same effect on the vocal in the chorus as was used on Speed, and it certainly helps to once again draw you into the atmosphere of this track. Of course the beat and most notably the bass once again help the head nod factor, and the emcees rhymes about performing live and seeing the love of the fans for them are one again on point. 4.5/5

Roy Lee Producer Extraordinaire - this is just a skit, which has Roy Lee trying to make a beat which sounds like a off time Neptunes beat on his Korg Triton, and asking for 9th to help him with it.

The Getup - this is the only track not fully produced by 9th Wonder on the whole album. He co-produces this track alongside Eccentric, which has a little more bounce to it than many of the other tracks on the album. You can really vibe and dance to this track, which as is the case on many of the tracks on the album features a brilliant vocal, at the end of the chorus, which just adds to the overall dopeness. The emcees once again don't disappoint, and its overall a classic track to me. 5/5

Away From Me - this is a really deep track talking about being away from loved ones. The bass once again draws you into the track, but its not the beat which takes centre stage here. The rhymes, first about a brother in jail, and then about not seeing a son for months at a time whilst on tour, are both really deep and endearing at the same time. We get to see the more serious side of the two emcees on this track, and it truly is a really dope experience. 4.5/5

Nobody But You - this track is about relationships, when people break up even though they know they are still in love with the other person, and then thinking about the future and having a long term relationship. The track is carried out really well, and certainly doesn't sound tacky like many hiphop attempts at relationship track tend to. 4/5

Home - this track is just like a little sung skit by Annanora Short and Phonte which is really chilled, in a similar vein to "Climb" by Mos Def & Vinia Mojica, and acts as a nice little break in proceedings. 4/5

Nightime Maneuvers - a real chill track, with a real ambient stab, coupled with dope bass, and a couple of little vocal samples. Phonte really rips it, and strikes a cord with me at least with the line:
"go to the crib drink some Peach Snaps and dose off to Pete Rock"
Big Pooh doesn't drop a verse on this track, but its still off the hook even if it is only one verse, and the small portion of an old soul track that follows the song itself is pure dopeness as well. 4.5/5

The Listening - this track is the perfect end to the album. Phonte and Big Pooh rap about their love for hiphop, about listening to an album all the way through, and people not knowing song names anymore, just the numbers, amongst other things. 9th drops another unbelievably dope beat, even having the confidence to use a small section of the horns from Pete Rock & CL Smooth's classic "TROY" in the mix. They even address the fact that some people only seems to listen to beats rather than lyrics, and can even joke at themselves on the break down where they question whether anyone is actually listening to what they say in tracks. Overall a perfect way to end an amazing album. 5/5

I think its pretty obvious by the scores I have given most of the tracks that to say that I am feeling this album would be a massive understatement. From beginning to end there are no tracks that I skip when I listen to the album, and that isn't something I can very often say with hiphop albums these days. The group setup is almost perfect, 9th Wonder drops some of the dopest beats heard from a new cat in years, and Phonte and Big Pooh back it up with dope, clever and for the most part highly amusing rhymes. The thing with this album is that because they rap about everyday issues that everyone has faced at one time or another it is so easy for anybody to relate to it in some way, that I can't really see any reason why any true hiphop fan wouldn't love this album. You can download a couple of tracks if you want, but to be honest, as dope as they will sound on their own you really need to hear the whole album back to front to truly appreciate Little Brother's vision. In my eyes this album is a must have, and in years to come I think it will definitely be considered a classic.

Overall: 9.5(for now)/10

Bramsterdam (see ya)

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Re:Little Brother - The Listening
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2004, 04:59:27 PM »
Good review man, always like to read yours and props for that. I havn't heard the whole album but from what I've heard it was good, Speed is a tight track. 8)
 

Don Breezio

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Re:Little Brother - The Listening
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2004, 10:39:55 PM »
i love this album...i agree with Waitin For The DJ 100%....my favorite track is the title track.."One chick told me all she listened to was beats...thankgod for 9th!" lol...i dunno why but i always loved that line...i really liked that track though because the whole thing is 110% true...everything he says is real...its all about how most people today arent into conscious hip hop...they want hot beats and girls shakin asses..."they think the shit niggas say ain't interestin, they ain't listenin they thinkin bout they timberlands..."
 

Leggy Hendrix

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Re:Little Brother - The Listening
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2004, 04:51:15 AM »
this album is definitely one of the best ive heard in a long time!i think u managed to express exactly what everyone feels when they listen to this album.props 8)


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Re:Little Brother - The Listening
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2004, 11:17:35 AM »
yeah, very underrated album i'd give it about a 9/10 too. dope review, i agree 95%