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Little Brother - The Minstrel Show Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals N/A
Musicianship N/A
Lyrics N/A
Production 0.25
Creativity 0.25
Lasting Value 0.25
Reviewer Tilt 0.25
Final Verdict: 3%
Member Ratings
Production 10
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 9.75
Reviewer Tilt 10
Average: 98%
Inside AP.net

Little Brother - The Minstrel Show

Reviewed by: Fullcollapse3k (01/13/06)
“Dope beats, dope rhymes. What more do y‘all want?” -Phonte

The quote above perfectly sums up North Carolina trio Little Brother, made up of emcees Phonte and Big Pooh, and producer 9th Wonder. While those may be new names to many of you, they have become a complete sensation in the underground hip hop community since the 2002 release of their stellar debut LP The Listening. While following up The Listening is a monumental task in itself, you add on the fact that their new album The Minstrel Show is the group’s major-label debut, and the pressure is clearly on, but did they deliver?

The Minstrel Show is a concept album of sorts, in that the main idea behind the album is that hip hop is a modern day minstrel show. This concept built hype, both good and bad leading up to the release of the record, as underground hip hop heads were salivating, and mainstream media was understandably apprehensive. The controversy around the album mainly came from two sources. The first was the BET debacle. BET refused to play the video for the album’s first single “Lovin’ It” due to the song and/or video being ‘too intelligent’. While the lyrical content of the song clearly proves that statement to be nothing more than an excuse to keep the video off-air, a large part of the reason why it was held off-air was likely because this hip hop minstrel show that Little Brother speak of is exemplified by many of the artists that make up BET’s video rotation. The second bit of controversy was in hip hop publication The Source’s review for The Minstrel Show, where the reviewer gave the album 4.5 out of 5 mics and the editors felt that the score should have been lower. The reviewer eventually quit The Source, but The Minstrel Show still received the 4.5 mic score.

The controversy leading up to the album release is a thing of the past now, and the time has come for Little Brother to either put up or shut up. The album’s opening song “Beautiful Morning” sees the group pick up where they left off, with a soulful beat from 9th Wonder paired up with solid verses from Phonte and Big Pooh. The first few tracks see them start off a bit slowly, but the album picks up with “Slow It Down”. With a terrific beat from 9th, great vocal work on the hook by guest Darien Brockington, and thought-invoking verses from Phonte, this track shows what Little Brother are all about; they are average, everyday guys who talk about average, everyday things. Phonte sheds light on the dilemma men face in how many of us have a fear of settling down and making a life with someone, and at the same time a man’s greatest fear may be growing old and being alone. This is a song that a lot of guys are going to listen to and think to themselves, “Yeah, I hear you.”

”Sometimes I think I‘m from another world, when I‘m trying to tell a woman just exactly where I stand at. I want a girl when I want a girl, and when I don‘t want a girl, I want a girl who understands that.”

While The Listening was an album that saw 9th Wonder virtually dominate all the way across with one incredible beat after the next, The Minstrel Show is Phonte’s time to shine. While ’Tay stepped his game up all the way across this recording, at no point did he deliver quite the way he did on “All For You”, a song about the trials and tribulations of growing up through an unsteady relationship with your father. I would be cheating Big Pooh if I didn’t mention his verse, because he did a fine job, but on this track, Phonte delivers one of the realest, most personal verses I have ever heard. This is what hip hop is all about; Get a beat, pick up a mic, and give the listener a piece of yourself. The verse spans the unsteady example his father put out as a role model, the importance of Phonte having his child in his life even after he and the child‘s mother split up, and how in the long run, Phonte couldn’t hold his father at fault, because he made the same mistakes that his father did. The lyrics were deep, the delivery was perfect, and this is the moment in my eyes that Phonte stepped up to the ranks of the top five active emcees in hip hop. Stunning.

"So the next time It‘s late at night, and I‘m laid up with the woman I‘mma make my wife, talkin‘ about how we gon‘ make our life, I‘m thinkin' about child support, alimony, visitation rights. ‘Cause that‘s the only outcome if you can‘t make it right, pissed off with your children feelin‘ the same pain. So pop, how could I blame you ‘cause you couldn‘t maintain? I did the same thing."

So, did The Minstrel Show ultimately deliver in the midst of all the pressure and hype that surrounded it? Yes and no. This is a quality hip hop release and one of the better albums of 2005, but it falls far short of The Listening. Still, 9th Wonder continues to prove he’s one of the best producers in hip hop, Big Pooh shows that he’s no joke himself, but the real surprise is the way Phonte emerged into the emcee he is now. He showed all the promise in the world on The Listening, he showed great improvement on the album Connected by The Foreign Exchange, but I didn’t think he had it in him to step up the way he did on this album. A great release, and, hey, “dope beats, dope rhymes”, right?
 
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
11:37 PM on 01/13/06
#2
Johnny Drama
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saw these guys open for OAR. not the least bit interesting. really enjoy good hip hop, but these guys werent it. maybe it was an off night, who knows. worst part was when they came out to sing "crazy game of poker" with oar...terrible.
11:41 PM on 01/13/06
#3
LilRyan732
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That album is crazy good. Nice review.
11:46 PM on 01/13/06
#4
Fullcollapse3k
should hit 32,000 posts by 2011.
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Originally Posted by Johnny Drama
saw these guys open for OAR. not the least bit interesting. really enjoy good hip hop, but these guys werent it. maybe it was an off night, who knows. worst part was when they came out to sing "crazy game of poker" with oar...terrible.

Haha, a friend of mine saw them live a little bit after The Minstrel Show came out, and he said he was disappointed, too. He said 9th wasn't out there, which I mean he's not producing stuff on-stage, so he doesn't have to be, but I understood his point, he's part of the group. I wanna see him with headphones on behind a turntable, you know?

If you only saw them live, I suggest checking them out on record, though I would start with The Listening.
02:02 AM on 01/14/06
#5
weworemasks
save the drama for wilmer valderama
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Originally Posted by Rick Pandorf
If you only saw them live, I suggest checking them out on record, though I would start with The Listening.

the only record i have of little brother is the listening, and it's really really good.
i'll have to check this record out, can't find it anywhere though.

nice review, it's good to see some hip-hop love.
02:11 AM on 01/14/06
#6
Fullcollapse3k
should hit 32,000 posts by 2011.
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Originally Posted by themostdeplete
the only record i have of little brother is the listening, and it's really really good.
i'll have to check this record out, can't find it anywhere though.

nice review, it's good to see some hip-hop love.

Thanks, and yeah The Listening was incredible, and this one was really good. If you check this one out and really like it, I suggest purchasing it, because these dudes flopped big time in terms of mainstream hip hop. Millions of copies of the new 50 Cent album fly off the shelves and real hip hop flops like there's no tomorrow. Sad.
02:23 AM on 01/14/06
#7
YouMadeTheScene
^^^Doesn't Have Herpes
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Great review Rick. We've talked Little Brother many times.

For some reason Minstrel Show strikes a different chord in me and I tend to actually lean toward it a little more then The Listening but both are some of the most pure beautiful hip hop that have come out in the past 7 or 8 years.
07:35 AM on 01/14/06
#8
mogwaifearsatan
feels good man
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Damn, this is a great review. I think you are already my favorite reviewer here.
09:24 AM on 01/14/06
#9
KarateExplosion
Slade Is My Bitch
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remember when de la soul released this record 14 years ago?
11:34 AM on 01/14/06
MEGAghost
Honey.
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Originally Posted by KarateExplosion
remember when de la soul released this record 14 years ago?

no. (don't gimme that bullshit.)
10:19 AM on 01/30/06
GoWaitInTheCar
The World Won't Listen.
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"Slow It Down" is probably my favorite song on this record. I actually like The Minstrel Show more then The Listening. I think it's produced better.

Good review.
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