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"And Justus For All" is the fourth album by the North Carolina Alternative Hip Hop group Little Brother. The only reason why I got this was because I was very impressed with the album which preceeded this, and I expected to hear the same sort of stuff as it was released less than a year before this. I didn't even look into any singles, as I wasn't aware of any which came out to give you a sample of the direction in this record, but I was confident in their abilities from the succss of "Getback".
If you read my review of "Getback", then you should already be aware that Little Brother consists of the duo Big Pooh and Phonte. The pair are Conscious (or Alternative) MCs as they aren't gangsta rappers, and this intelligent form of the genre is termed differnt, because the more ignorant stuff is the only type which gets into the mainstream scene. Regardless of this, they continue without attempting to break out to the popular music audience.
Two albums ago the producer 9th Wonder was part of the group, but departed shortly before the thrid album to go on to do production elsewhere, but regardless of him leaving the group, he is still on good terms with the MCs, and even lends his beats to one of the tracks on the album.
1. Can't Stop Us (feat. Chaundon)
Little Brother speak on how they are in such of a high momentum, by relasing annual records, that it isn't possible to prevent this flow from continuing (even though this is going to be thie last album for a while as they split to do their own things). The duo reassure fans that just because they lost 9th Wonder, as he wanted to pursue producing all over the Hip hop world, that the group is still as strong as everbefore, and this will not cease.
It does more to excite you about the future for them, rather than enjoy the current material. I felt that this was why I didn't like it too much, because it this break is to be longer than expected, I wouldn't like to have this as the thing which I remember them for; promising better things later on in their career.
2. Delusional (feat. Oddisee)
The great melodies from Oddisee set you upfor the upcomingtrack as they present the chorus, whcih gives you a sense of delusion (the key theme here). Following couple of cycles through this little section, Little Brother do what they are best known for, getting straight to the point, so they leave out all the introductary speech. They just send the message out immediately.
I feel that this shows that they are very professional, and are fully aware tha many find it annoying when this is done (as the motivation for it is to waste a few bars). We are taken through the life of a deluded preson, and all of the typical things which preople expect of life, but are never able to accomplish due to a lack of true potential in the eyes of others are explained by a duo who have got over their delusional past.
3. Life of the Party (Remix) (feat. Skillz and Carlitta Durand)
I have to say that I really didn't like the original recording of this track, so it was good to hear them go back and rectify , and improve on tracks from their past. They changed it quite a bit, so I'm not sure whether those who enjoyed the first version would keep those feelings towards this one, but to me it was altered for the better, as they started from scratch and completely re-did it again.
4. Best Kept Secret (feat. Legacy)
Surprisingly we have an Electronica producer take over the beats here. RJD2 provides some unexpectedly high quality Hip hop beats, which don't really have a hint of Electronica in them. I found this to be the safe option as this genre is one which I depise, and I dount that too man underground Hip Hop heads will appreciate any of it in here, because Little Brother perform a pure form of Hip Hop, and it would be spoiled if this happened. Phonte and Pooh are just as strong as ever, but the guest performer (who I had never heard before now) was a very dtrong choice for a collaborator. I expect a lot from Legacy in the future, because he brought heat here.
5. Do It to Death (feat. Rhymefest and Supastition)
I was excited to read that the Chicagao rapper best known on the freestyle circuit (or from his collab with Kanye on a track called "brand New") has a vocal role in this particualr tne, and because he has been quiet lately, I was interested to see how he had got on over time, an he has definately improved and brought quality in this album with his creative lines, which you don't tend to get from many else.
As Rhymefest remained an underground star, despite a shortr stint in the limelight, he kept it street, as he hadn't been effected too much by fame. This is how Little Brother perform too, so he was the perfect choice to MC alongside the duo. Another collabs too, but Supastition wasn't someone I had heard of before.
6. A Word from Our Sponsors (feat. Von Pea)
I'm not quite sure what to call this as it's a two minute track which has the qualities of a skit, but could also be considered to be a poer track as it uses some Khrysis production, and has both MCs rap along to the beat, but as it goes on a concept, it seems as though it only fits in as part of this particular album, and it wouldn't have a role away from it.
7. Too Late for Us (feat. Tiye Phoenix)
We are given inspiration from this track as Little Brother explain that no matter where you are in your life, you are always entitled to a second chance in order to improve on things you have done and either make them right or ignore them in order to start fresh, and use the experience to be aware of the potential drawbacks which could occur as a result of certain actions. I felt that the melodies by Tiye Phenix were extremely reassuring, and backed-up the message, which the group were attempting to get across to the listner.
8. Cool As a Fan
The simile given in the title is all which is required to get you into the mood, which is eed for this track, as it is a really laid-back tune. However you can tell that the pair aren't chilled out as they claim to be as their raps have so much to them, even when they slow things down, just like this. This is a very short one )at tow and a half minutes), and this doesn't mean that they pt their guard down, as they contiune with strong rhymes which have been consistant throughtout the record.
9. Never Leave
Although I thought that this was one of the best tracks on the album, I was still rather disappointed by it, because I expected a lot more from it, firstly due to it's length (not even three minutes) and also because of it's introduction by Phonte, because he adds so much hype, but it sin't completely delivered as stated.
The intro has 'Phontigga' say that he has to "justfy his thug" in his raps, because it's something which conscious MCs tend to ignore (apart from Common, who always takes us back to the streets of the Chi), and as someone who prefers this style to their usual one, I reall liked it, but without decent length, i couldn't fully mature in the time alotted.
10. The Pressure
Khrysis does the production here, and he seems to be quite relentless with this particular track, which fits in with what the duo are all about as they don't give the listener any real chance in order to take in any of ther deep lyrics. You are forced to do this by revising them later on, because there is just so much in them that if you pick up something up on the first listening, you will dwell on it too long; causing you to forget to contiune focussing fo a few seconds. This is where Little Brother tend to perform well too as they can come out with big lines one after another without breaks (as most tend to).
11. Lose It (feat. Jozeemo)
The infectious bass from this Khrysis-produced tune sets the scene nicely as it is quite a grim and grimey tune, and these foundations allow for the pair to easily take inspiration and flow in a way which runs in parraell to it. The duo seem to be quite care-free here, in comparison to pretty much everythign I have heard from them in the past as they are usally quite serious, but here it definately isn't the case. Here they "lose It" and go completely out of control in a way which doesn't really fit in with theit typical tunes, but it was refreshing here and gives you a break from all the lyricism before it.
12. Fan Mail (feat. Joe Scudda and Darien Brockington)
Darien Brockington returned for this album, as he also ha an appearance on the previous record "Getback", I expected to hear something strong from him, because his soulful R&B vocals seem to give an escape from the seriousness of the MCing by Little Brother, and without a little freedom from being dragged down into hard conscious lyrcs, it plays the same role here, and he calms it down as Pooh and Phonte really do not slow at all here, they conitune with their deep lyrics through the whole tune.
13. Stylin' (feat. Oh No)
The Cali MC Oh No comes with the collabo here, and I have only heard him appear as a featured guest in albums rather than on his own material, but I found that his style always fit in wherever he placed it, but it always tended to be in this "Alternative" style, the last tiem I can remmeber this is in The Roots' new album "Rising Down", where he has a role on one of the tunes.
Phonte kicks things of with some contexual information regarding his rise up before his explains why the situation is annoying to him. He really knows how much explaination is required to set up the track to fully understand his sitaution, and from here he says that from being the "chubby" kid, to being growing (without changing in size), to have groupies come on to him just because of his fame, which he is quite modest about.
14. Cross That Line (Remix) (feat. Kardinal Offishall)
Little Brother perform another remix here, the difference being that I am unfamiliar with the original, and so I am unable to comment on it in comparison to the first version. Regardless of this, I still felt that it was a good tune, but not especially strong because it deals the issues related to the group which aren't really relevant anymore. This is a problem with remixes as they soemtimes don't keep up with the times, and the duo were quite lazy by basically talking about things whichwe have cared about for their first (or possibly second LP), the but thw hole being differn to other Hip Hoppers can't stick with them throughout their career.
15. Back At It (Remix) (feat. Cormega)
The legendary Cormega makes an apperane along with Little Brother, and his inclusion is just the type of stuff which you expect from this album, and when he adds so much more to the strength of the duo's raps you have a very strong tune. The only thing is that I felt let it down a bit was the beat,as it didn't really have enough to aid the track along. I understand that most fans of the grup will disagree, and claim that the lyrics are where the focus is supposed to be, but the full potneial cannot be reached without it being a full package, and the production is the second most important factor in getting this.
16. Time of Your Life (feat. Carlitta Durand)
I guarantee that this track will grow on you, because initally it isn't too conventiaon; (as it has the group do a soulful Hip Hop tune), but still manage to keep it in with their uusal conscious style of MCing, and once you have slpet on it, you will see a lot more in than the first listneing. The jazzy beat is complemented by the melodies from Carlitta Durand (who also sings half a verse), and it adds to the chill-out mood of this track. I found it to be extremely relaxing, and the theme of giving your loved one a nice night out, fits in with the song perfectly.
I felt that overall te album was pretty average as a lot of the material was all on the same level. It was quite different from "Getback", but I felt that the changes made weren't for the best. With so little variation, you did tend to get quite bored of the continually hard lyrics, and they only offered a couple of escapes from it.
I am annoyed that this was the album which we are left with now as Little Brother claim that they are all going their separate way on solo projects for a while before they return with another album. I feel this way because "Getback" was so much better than this, and there weren't enough stand-out tunes to have this as the final LP from Little Brother (from the time being at least).
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Cant Stop Us - Chaundon, Little Brother
2 Delusional - Little Brother, Oddisee
3 Life of the Party [Remix] - Carlitta Durand, Little Brother, , Skillz
4 Best Kept Secret - The Legacy, Little Brother
5 Do It to Death - Little Brother, Rhymefest, Supastition
6 Word from Our Sponsors - Little Brother, Von Pea
7 Too Late for Us - Little Brother, Tiye Phoenix,
8 Cool as a Fan - Little Brother
9 Never Leave - Little Brother
10 Pressure - Little Brother
11 Lose It - Jozeemo, Little Brother
12 Fan Mail - Darien Brockington, Little Brother, Joe Scudda
13 Stylin - Little Brother, Oh No
14 Cross That Line [Remix] - Kardinal Offishall, Little Brother
15 Back at It [Remix] - Cormega, Little Brother
16 Time of Your Life - Carlitta Durand, Little Brothe