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"The Minstrel Show" was recorded as the second album from the North Carolina-based Hip Hop trio Little Brother. Consisting then of Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh and 9th Wonder (the latter their producer, who would leave after their next album), with this 2005 release they bring out an album with an eye-catching title to pull in attention of a wider range of listeners towards this Alterantive work.
1. "Welcome To The Minstrel Show" (Intro)
2. "Beautiful Morning" (Lude)
3. "The Becoming" (Lude)
4. "Not Enough"
As we come off an introduction to the album and then a couple of interludes, we find ourselves finally in the main body of the work here. They do a nice job here as 9th Wonder sets things off well with a Teddy Pendergrass sample and it gives the two MCs the chance to come up with some rhymes which have a soulful edge to it. The Darien Brockington R&B hook tops the thing off and makes for a quality track from them.
I saw this to be a killer track on the album and one which shows just how well they inject humour r into their work. This time around htey change things up massively by performing a R&B song, but do so in a parody format with an over-dramatic performance of a song based upon adultery with comical lyrics. Phonte sings as Percy Miracles and Mr Diggs (sounding as if he's singing as R. Kelly and Ronald Isley).
6. "Hiding Place"
Normality is restored for this one as they get right back on into the straight-up Hip Hop from this cut. I thought that it was done well as Elzhi (of Slum Village) worsk alongside them. On this track we see just how strong the lyricism of the artists is and where exactly Drake modelled his Hip Hop (and R&B sound) from when working from what Phonte offers. It's beats hit hard and make it really stand out on the record.
7. "Slow It Down"
For this tune we see that a funky little David Ruffin composition is used to support things as the act go off in a style which i thought would appeal o those who were into the bassy sounds of mid nineties R&B and Hip Hop. It's a very smooth tune and has them doing things at two-stepping pace to some big results that I felt would be hard to find any weaknesses in as it focuses on how the MCs would treat a date.
8. "Say It Again"
The Five Special are sampled on this track and I thought that the throwback Soul sounds were a suitable backdrop to the sort of material which is given by the act and the sort of direction that they tend to take their music in as they do their thing. This is a powerful tune and with the beats in check and then some thought-provoking rhymes which surprise you at every turn, you have to be impressed by it all.
9. "5th & Fashion" (Lude)
10. "Lovin' It"
This single caught quite a bit of controversy due to it being missed off music video playlists due to its "intelligence" I felt that this track really summed-up all that this record is about and the direction taken here from them as they pick at the various styles of Hip Hop (naming "icy", "backpack", "gangsta" and "earthy" along the way. I thought it was amongst the best here and one to look out for.
11. "Diary of a Mad Black Daddy" (Lude)
12. "All For You"
The way the vocal sample on this one is put together to act as a running loop through the song is a great little detail from 9th Wonder to ensure that you'll be drawn right into this record. I felt that it was nice to see how the MCs worked from this and went for a soft direction with the music this time around. It's soothing and Phonte's mix of raps and singing on the hook shows all that he has to offer people.
13. "Watch Me"
The beats on this one take inspiration from the Boom-Bap style of the nineties, but takes it in a softer and more contemporary style to suit what exactly this crew is about. I felt that it was the sort of tune which needed time to grow on you as the first hearing wouldn't quite do it. There's a lot to like about this tune and I thought that this acted as an example of why exactly their stlye was so refreshing around the time when it came out. It's got a nice early seventies Michael Jackson sample in it, and ends with DJ Jazzy Jeff showing off his DJ skills.
14. "Sincerely Yours"
This is a dense and rather heavy tune from little Brother. I saw this as a rather standard tune from them and so nothing that I'd say really stood out on the album. It could be considered to be filler by some, but I felt that it was more the case that rapper Big Pooh's opening verse is rather generic and so seems to be going nowhere at first but it then develops into a tune that you'd like if this complexly-written style of Hip Hop appeals to your tastes.
15. "Still Lives Through"
The album comes toa great end here as we're given a slapping track which I thought made a nice lasting impression to those who may have come into this act's work late. You get effective use of Audio Two flows from "Top Billin'" to guide it through and is primarily driven by a line from Busta Rhymes on an A Tribe Called Quest cut to top the record off - the album when the majority of people became aware of their work.
16. "Minstrel Show Closing Theme" (Outro)
I thought that this was a great Little Brother album. It offers a lot and makes good use what they'd managed to build up through their debut work. It has a soulful sound to it and so will appeal to those who tend to get down with Mid-West Hip Hop (as North Carolina-based Hip Hop isn't all that common other than with these and Petey Pablo).
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Welcome To The Minstrel Show
2 Beautiful Morning
3 The Becoming
4 Not Enough
6 Hiding Place
7 Slow It Down
8 Say It Again
9 5th And Fashion
10 Lovin It
11 Notepad Of A Mad Black Daddy
12 All For You
13 Watch Me
14 Sincerely Yours
15 Still Lives Through
16 The Minstrel Closing Theme
17 We Got Now