The Listening
label: abb

producers: 9th wonder

year of release: 2002
Where does one begin? Anybody can take a look at the TV these days and see how badly hip hop is getting commercialized. Now, there's nothing wrong with making money from hip hop, but the way hip hop culture is getting ravaged in the media is a straight joke. But what can you truly do when such a culture has become such a dominant form of expression these days, not only for blacks and Latino's, but for the white youth as well. Hip hop has leaped every geographical and cultural boundary out there, and there are no signs of it slowing down. And while I feel that hip hop music itself has been cluttered with an influx of kids who do music, the proportion of those kids who actually make quality music has not kept pace. But this then goes to say, since hip hop has become such a broad genre in itself, opinions of what is good and not good varies as vastly as the demographic hip hop now represents. But with that said, I'm not gonna front, Little Brother makes my type of hip hop, representing the state of North Carolina!?!?!

1. Morning
2. Groupie Pt. 2
3. For You
4. Speed
5. Whatever You Say
6. Make Me Hot (Interlude)
7. The Yo-Yo
8. Shorty On The Lookout
9. Love Joint Revisited
10. So Fabulous
11. The Way You Do It
12. Roy Lee, Producer Extraordinaire (Interlude)
13. The Getup
14. Away From Me
15. Nobody But You
16. Home (Interlude)
17. Nighttime Maneuvers
18. The Listening
Not exactly known for having a gang of known artists, North Carolina is where Little Brother call home. Is Little Brother groundbreaking in most regards? Not really. But who says you have to reinvent the wheel to make great music? Little Brother makes soulful hip hop that is just plain dope, there's no way around it. By far, the most noticeable aspect of "The Listening" is 9th Wonder's work on the boards. Forget your average looping - add a drum and bassline - and sprinkle some samples into the mix type of production. 9th Wonder creates music. The beats are just incredible, and you can hear it in the music, 9th has a talent for his craft. The drums bump, the samples are carefully chosen and placed, and a mood is set in the context of an album that most kids can only dream of creating.
If your a technical aspect criticizer, and Aceyalone, Ras Kass, or Anticon is your idea of emceeing bliss, then Phonte and Big Pooh are not gonna be your cup of tea. But to call them simplistic is blasphemy. The pair of emcees are witty, clever, and meld with 9th's beats like that perfect blend of pit cooked BBQ and sauce. And we all know I love me some good BBQ. The topics aren't super deep, and they don't throw a dictionary of grammar at you, but what they do well, is create an aural environment that not only got my head nodding, but also promoted a feeling of relation. From the topics of women on "Whatever You Say" to the soulful sentiment exhibited on "Away From Me" and "Nobody But You," Phonte and Big Pooh glide the tracks with ease, and pulls you into the essence of the music.
With that said, it's obvious you can tell I'm feeling this album. They make the type of hip hop I thought had been long forgotten, yet they don't sound like they just stepped out of 1993. All I have to say to the consumers is, if you sleep on this, it's your loss....and what I have to say to Little Brother is: keep doing ya'll thing....there are cats out there like myself who appreciate it.
review: mcktwo
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