Little Brother [audios]



After the golden 90s, folks thought hip-hop was on birth control -- no more innocent little ones. Little Brother (Phonte of Foreign Exchange, Big Pooh and 9th Wonder) emerged from North Carolina against all odds, and held it down against all odds from 2001 to 2010. Throughout the decade they truly kept the door open for the new wave of DIY hip-hop artists coming of age in 2011.

But holding a door open without much help can be a torturous task, and it takes its toll. Folks throw stones at Lauryn Hill, but examples like hers may have saved the humans behind the "brand" of Little Brother. The American music industry is in an anarchy-like state of disarray, fueled by hype often disguised as hope, and knowing when to rest is sometimes more important than stubbornly forcing a square peg in a round hole.

In many ways Little Brother were the last action heroes of a decade of righteous hip-hop superheroes. They belong more to the 90s than to the 00s probably; such excellent students of the past that they were ahead of their time. The coming 90s retro era will surely fix that though. The legend and trajectory of Little Brother's story is ultimately greater than any one destination, and listeners will be catching up to their legacy for a while. Like Lauryn has taught us, the fans' understanding of it all can wait for the autobiography -- hard to swallow during the Twitter/Instant Message age in which people assume they have a right to invade another's privacy on demand because they chose to give theirs away for free.

Below are some of our favorites from Little Brother's latest album, Leftback, and others. In disbanding this past year, here's how Phonte and Pooh put it in their own words:

Pooh: "I was just thinking about our own situation and then I realized, when groups leave, it's just like when a person dies. Every person dies and a baby is born. So, as Little Brother calls it quits, there are other groups to not necessarily take our place but to keep the tradition going... That's what it's all about -- you don't want your favorite group to force a relationship. Like, you don't want Tribe Called Quest... If they don't really want to be together, you want them to make another album. If they make an album just because you asked for it, it's not going to be the same Tribe Called Quest you fell in love with. It's going to be something forced."

Phonte: "If you're doing business with a friend, you gotta decide, well, do I end this business relationship and keep my friendship? Or do I continue this business relationship and end up wrecking both?"

Dreams

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Second Chances f. Bilal & Darien Brockington

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Two Step Blues f. Darien Brockington

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The Listening

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After The Party f. Carlitta Durand

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Breakin' My Heart f. Lil Wayne

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Before The Night Is Over

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Righteous

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The Way You Do It

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Slow It Down f. Darien Brockington

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Give It To Yall

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