I hadn't heard of this group, Little Brother, until 2005, when they released their second album entitled "The Minstrel Show", obviously gaining a lot of criticism due to the name, it drew me in to find out more about what they are about. Since this album, they have brought out two EPs ("The Commercial Free EP" and "Separate But Equal"), leading up to this "Getback".
Little Brother was a North Carolina-based Hip Hop trio, consisting of Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh and 9th Wonder, but since the latter member left they are now a duo. 'The 9th Wonder of Little Brother' left because his role was to be a producer for their beats, so he wasn't attending their tours, and his presence wasn't really required to make the group work. They have officially stated that there is no beef between the existing members of the group and 9th Wonder, so they will continue to work together just as they have with this album, but he only did "Breakin' My Heart".
The name of the group comes from the fact that they consider themselves to be the "little brother' to Hip Hop musicians within groups like De La Soul, Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest. From these names, you can tell that their style isn't concentrating on gangsta rap; they are Hip Hop MCs.
1. "Sirens" (feat. Carlitta Durand)
This kicks off the album in a slow way, initially we are welcomed with a piano and some strings before we hear interference, then this is followed by a little guitar segment. After this we finally get to the real Hip Hop; what Little Brother are all about.
We get welcomed by lyrics about the current state of this genre, where one of the main issues is whether people should be allowed to use the word "n****", especially in media such as this. Then he goes straight into a political mind-set, by saying that their are bigger problems than this for black people, such as trying to get them out of poverty as this is what is causing these people to be drawn to crime; from which a stereotype associated with African Americans is effecting how they are seen in comparison to people of other races.
This track hasn't got an attention-grabbing hook to it at all, but I feel that Illmind (the producer of this tune) wasn't trying to make the beat more important than the words of Little Brother. Carlitta Durmand sings the chorus of this jam and she lifts the mood slightly in the track, but once the second member of the duo comes in and gives us more of the same, we have a lot to think about. I feel that the choruses are the times in which you are given an opportunity to reflect on the thought-provoking lyrics.
2. "Can't Win For Losing"
This track has the G-Unit producer from the Boot Camp Clik, Illmind, once again providing the beat. He comes with a basic and simplistic clapping rhythm on top of a winding West Coast G-Funk-influence noise. It sounds very suitable for this group as it adds to the diversity in the music.
We have the MCs talking about how they would do their music for the fans, but they wouldn't really understand his inner emotions. Following this, his family would be the people that the music would be directed towards; we have this continuing for a while as he gets rejected continuously. This is often the case for alternative conscious Hip Hop acts; they aren't understood by anybody.
The entire track allows us to understand the lives of artists like this, how nobody seems to accept them. It's really emotional in this sense as you wish that you could just reach out and tell them that you are listening to them and understanding their intellectual style of Hip Hop.
3. "Breakin' My Heart" (feat. Lil' Wayne)
This is the only track on the album which has all of the original Little Brother members on a track as 9th Wonder produces it. This makes the tune special, and to make it stand out amongst the other songs on the rest of the LP, Lil' Wayne features on it. His popularity is likely to makes people listen to this straight away.
9th Wonder brings a big hook to the table with an extremely bassy bounce to it; making it fit in with other North Carolina Hip Hop. The music is quite similar to the Mid-West in terms of the lyrical delivery, but its southern headquarters force a heavy bounce upon the beat.
The input of Lil' Wayne comes as he sings the chorus before one of the rappers in the group does, but you shouldn't get disappointed by this, because he raps an entire verse. From this fans of his music should be content. There is a strong contrast between the quality of his raps and that of Little Brother's, but the former act is more colourful and is able to paint pictures in your mind.
4. "Good Clothes"
We are brought back to a form of normality as Illmind is back on production on his third track on the album. Prior to this much of the beats were very samey, but this has a distinctive 1940s vibe to it. It completely changes the direction of the album when we are greeted by trumpets.
I really like this track because I feel that absolutely anybody can relate to it, because of what the title says "Good Clothes", everyone has some things that the would describe to be this way. We are taken through a shopping trip by Phonte in his childhood as he speak about what would have made him the flyest around, and says that with his stone-washed denim Bobby Brown jacket, he still is.
5. "After The Party" (feat. Carlitta Durand)
This beat for this one was provided by a Hip Hip-specializing producer who has worked with Little Brother in the past, probably due to the fact they come from the same city in North Carolina. He comes with a rather slow tune with a soft to it, something which I don't really like; I prefer a harder punch to it.
As you can probably tell from the title, it is calm, like a chill-out after a grand event. You get this impression from the long into which has the MCs talking for 50 seconds before getting into the zone for some rhymes. Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte go on about 'simps' (people who act like pimps around their friends, but are very delicate around their women) and how everyone is really one, they just can't face up to it.
This one is written for the girls, so it didn't really have an effect on me but it was good to see them doing something quite different to other artist, by rapping in an R&B way, but without singing the lyrics, as many rappers tend to do. I felt that they were successful in their attempt at doing something original, but it just wasn't for me.
6. "Extra Hard"
From the hook, "They're all bitches" you get a good idea of what this track is about, you hear this continuously throughout the track as the MCs explain why they feel all women are this way; due to the fact they only seem to come on to them due to the fame and before this they could only get "hos".
This one was an infectously funky beat to it which makes you overlook heir harsh words towards the women they have been with in the past. I must say that the beginning is quite humourous as they explain what they have gone through and progressed to, but it wasn't too good a track.
7. "Step It Up" (feat. Dion)
Hi-Tek switches up the tone of the LP here by giving us a soulful jam which makes you sway from side to side. It's good to have some variety by doing this because I was getting quite bored of all the these tracks which weren't quite getting me into the correct mood, ut this ones got some funk (although it's not too strong).
There's no messing around by filling up time in the track for this one, Phonte jumps right in to the raps even before a chorus is sang, this displays that he is keen to spread his word and he has a lot to say, many MCs would steer away from this (as they often run out of things to say by resorting to rhyming words with noises). It's a nice change to the rap that I usually listen to.
We are told how he has matured by getting to know a certain girl. The beat fits in well by having it soft, but firm enough to bounce to and this movement haves me feel as though the changes he has made in his life are making him happy, it's not a special effort to alter himself against his will.
8. "Two-Step Blues" (feat. Darien Brockington)
This is amongst my favourites on the album as it gets you into what can only be considered the Friday feeling. It takes a situation where one of the MCs are losing their 9-to-5 and instead of looking at it as a negative, they just brush it off and "step the blues away". It is really up-lifting if you are on a downers, so I would keep this on your iPod for moments like that.
I really love how this how such a jazzy fell to it with the added effects of things such as the brass instruments, making the sound authentic and real, because it's exactly what you require when you are in this type of mood. I think that Little Brother, Darien Brockington and Nottz, producer, really got it right here.
9. "That Ain't Love" (feat. Jozeemo)
The members of Little Brother argue their point that they believe that all the things which people immediately think of when they thing of love =, isn't what the emotion is about. The say that it's not all about the gifts and everything, but more about the finer things which bring people closer together which count, and I stand beside them on this matter.
Cleverly, the sample IIlmind chose to use is "Is This Love" by Junior, so in effect, they are answering this song with another and explaining their reasoning behind their theory to the subject. The beat is one of the best things about the track, and so I had lots of fun listening to it.
This is an interesting one as it takes the mind of a hustler and explains it to those who just don't understand it and take their ways for ignorance instead of carefully thought-out theories which make sense. One phrase from it sticks out in explaining this, "I'ma make money money, And if I can't make it I'ma take money money. [which continues] Bills paid, bank account ensured, top of the world screamin' "fuck that, get yours."" It is as simple as this.
From this you get a taste of where they are going to take this as all of the hopes and adventurous aspirations are listed to us, showing that there is motivation for all of this type of action and it will lead on to bigger and better things past the shady methods of today, so it is less mindless than most believe it to be.
11. "When Everything Is New"
I really like what Little Brother do hear, as they really wrap everything up and bring it to a close, and so you aren't left asking anymore questions about their music (apart from when the next album's coming out). We have another soft jazzy number from them to settle us down after an eventful LP.
If I had to criticise this for something which I felt could have been improved on easily is the length of the instrumental at the end, because it really doesn't have to carry on for as long it does without any speech at all and the beat doesn't particularly affect me, so it should be cut shorter, because in it's entirety, this track is six and a half minutes long.
In conclusion, this is a strong conscious Hip Hop album with a lot of depth, which takes a couple of listens to get around, I'd say that it is definately a must-buy for those into stuff from artist such as Talib Kweli, Common and Mos Def, not everyone would enjoy it, and I would have to say that just because Lil' Weezy's on here, I wouldn't say that you get anything like his type of recordings on here so have a listen, but I wouldn't say buy it if you listen to more mainstream Hip Hop acts.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Please Stand By - Little Brother (2)
2 Sirens - Little Brother & Carlitta Durand
3 Can't Win For Losing - Little Brother (2)
4 Breakin' My Heart - Little Brother & Lil' Wayne
5 Good Clothes - Little Brother (2)
6 After The Party - Little Brother & Carlitta Durand
7 Extrahard - Little Brother (2)
8 Step It Up - Little Brother & Dion
9 Two Step Blues - Little Brother & Darren Brockington
10 That Ain't Love - Little Brother & Jozeemo
11 Dreams - Little Brother (2)
12 When Everything Is New - Little Brother (2)
13 System - Little Brother & Tone Trezure