Little Brother
Two Man Show

little-brother1.jpgLittle Brother will never be the same again. While recording their upcoming third album, The Getback, producer 9th Wonder and MCs Big Pooh and Phonte decided to part ways due to creative differences. It was a breakup no one saw coming. Then, that same week, Pooh and Phonte revealed they were leaving Atlantic Records. It was a tumultuous turn of events that left the future of the group in question. But ‘Te and Pooh weren’t about to give up. They’ve came too far to quit.

Little Brother got their start in 2003 with their debut LP, The Listening, on ABB Records. The album was a breath of fresh air in hip-hop. Soulful boom bap beats by 9th Wonder combined with Pooh and ‘Te’s humble tales of everyday life. Atlantic Records took notice and signed the group the following year. The Durham, NC trio then released their sophomore LP, The Minstrel Show, in 2005. The album was critically acclaimed and regarded as one of the year’s best. That didn’t translate, however, into album sales. Their relationship with Atlantic Records then soured, prompting LB to leave the label.

Now, without 9th Wonder and Atlantic Records, Phonte and Pooh trudge on. The future of Little Brother rests in their hands. Eager to prove they can succeed on their own, the duo released a mixtape, And Justus For All, two months ago. It was a glimpse at the new Little Brother before their third album, The Getback. Phonte and Big Pooh talk to about the group’s new direction, breakup with 9th Wonder and departure from Atlantic Records.

How will The Getback differ from your last album, The Minstrel Show?
Pooh: Well, it’s gonna differ sonically, first and foremost, because we decided to have numerous producers on it. It’s gonna be a new Little Brother direction and a new sound. And, of course, me and ‘Te coming into our own lyrically as MC’s. I like to call it the evolution of Little Brother.

What went wrong with the situation at Atlantic Records?
Phonte: It was just a thing where a rap group is harder to market. I don’t think they knew what they were getting into with us. I think they just saw an opportunity to sign these three happy backpack niggas, who were just gonna be happy to get a deal. But once we got in the building, they saw these are three real niggerish dudes. [Laughs] I mean, niggas ain’t thugs and we ain’t about a whole bunch of ignorance, but we’re just more in the middle than what they realized. So, I guess once they realized that we weren’t going neatly fit into any box that just made it a harder sell for them. There’s a million other reasons I could give, but ultimately I don’t think they believed in us that much.

Would you ever sign a deal with another major?
Phonte: Hell no! Never again. I mean, there’s stuff that we have going on in the works, so this album could end up on another major. But really, a major label situation is not for me—all the red tape and bullshit that comes with it.

Pooh: Personally, I would. At the point where the music industry is now, it’s like a crumbling empire. But there’s still a lot of things that I feel are necessary that they [the record labels] do. The whole distribution and getting your shit out aspect of it. Because unless you have the capital to do it yourself, then you’re pretty much pumping it out of your trunk. So I wouldn’t have a problem with it, I just have to make sure I can put my records out how I want to put them out and when it’s time for them to come out, they’ll be on the shelves on Tuesday. That’s all I’m concerned about. All that other shit is extra.

You guys parted ways with longtime producer and group member, 9th Wonder. What led to the split?
Phonte: It was more creative [differences], but I’ll say that a lot of it had to do with personal stuff. I think it was a thing where, and I even told 9th in our last conversation, he wanted a group to use as a platform for his beats, but I don’t think he necessarily wanted to be a member of a group. As far as all the responsibilities that come with being in a group, like touring, doing interviews, and all the little bullshit that comes with it. I don’t think he wanted that. And it got to a point where, for whatever reason, he didn’t have the guts to tell me and Pooh.

Pooh: At the end of the day, it’s like a marriage. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. What people don’t realize is it wasn’t based on any music decision. It was a decision that had to be made amongst us for us to move on and move to the direction that we wanted to go in. Ultimately, me and ‘Te were moving in one direction musically and professionally, and 9th was moving in another direction musically and professionally. Sometimes shit just happens. I never understood when EPMD, Pete Rock and CL Smoth, and A Tribe Called Quest broke up. [When] you’re on the outside looking in, it’s like, ‘Yo, what the fuck! They make great music, man. What are they doing?’ But now I understand it. You got three grown ass men and all three of us are at different places in our lives and want different things. It just comes to a point where, in order for you to keep going, you have to separate.

Phonte, what was 9th’s response when you tried to talk to him about the situation?
Phonte: Well, 9th is my dude and I love him to death, but it’s like niggas don’t want to admit shit a lot of the time. He was real dismissive, like, “Nah, that ain’t it, dog.” I understand that people grow and change and nobody is going to be the same person they were five years ago, or hell, even two years ago. So my disappointment wasn’t in the fact that it went down, it was the way it went down. The last conversation we had, dude didn’t even want to sit down and talk to us. We didn’t even talk in person, we talked on the phone. Shit like that, is just like, ‘Nah my nigga, I can’t ride with that.’ I would think that as a friend and as a brother, he would’ve had more respect for what we’ve done together and handle it in a better way.

You guys have stated your vision for The Getback differed from 9th’s. Do you feel he wasn’t being flexible enough?
Pooh: It was a thing where me and ‘Te had a vision and a sound direction we wanted to go in. And it’s easy for me and ‘Te to be on the same wavelength because we’re around each other all the time. We tour, we record together and whatever. But then trying to relay that to somebody who’s not really around you and isn’t really in your ebb and flow is kind of hard. And it was a situation where we were like, “We [are] looking for this,” and he was like, “Nah, we’re looking for this.” It was weird trying to explain to a person who’s supposed to be in your group, what you’re looking for. It was just a weird feeling and shit. And I think that’s when we all really knew that it was [coming to] an end. When you’re in a group, there’s certain things that are supposed to click. When we did The Listening and The Minstrel Show there were things that clicked, and it wasn’t clicking like that no more.

Phonte: I think he got comfortable. 9th is a good producer and at times, [he] can even be a great producer. But just from the person that I know and with all the musical knowledge that he has, if he would open himself up more and let go of his doubts, there’s no question in my mind that he could be a phenomenal producer. We love this music and we love what we’re doing, but if you’re capable of doing more then why not do it? If you know you can play all these instruments in the band and you can pick up stuff on piano by ear, then why not incorporate that into your music? I love sampling and chopping like the next man, but if you’re capable of doing so much more, why stay in that box?

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  • OG Frank

    I’m sorry 9th left…they made great music together.

    • Tee to da Jay Aye Y

      I agree with Phonte and Big Pooh. 9th is one of the most creative beat makers in the game. Once all that mess about 9th’s beats sounding the same started to circulate amongst beat heads and all, cats started to listen more in tune and suddenly, damn that track does have the same drum beat; then all of the tracks had the same or similar drum beat. As it became more pronounced, it became dull and uninspired. Like Phonte said, Why not venture outside the box and unleash all those incredible sounds. 9th, if you read this blog, don’t be a typecast producer, It’s too many muggs making crazy paper putting garbage out. Unleash all that creativeness and link back up with 2 of the realiest, smartest, cats on the mic. LB will survive, but we want constellations in space for all three of yall, somebody damn.

  • Rugged edge

    Little Brother they still my niggas Big Pooh, Phonte and 9th wonder what ever u do stay real

  • Rugged edge

    Little Brother they still my niggas Big Pooh, Phonte and 9th wonder what ever u do stay real

  • Maseo

    I’m looking forward to the next joint. I hope they still do some work together, LB is still one of my favorites.

  • Sincere (Sin)

    Good read… I hope the group can get the credit they deserved. And pray that 9th and Lil Brother re-unite in the near future…


    I”M BACK!!!!!!!!!

    Little Brother is about to step up……really they are ahead of they time like most true emcees. World wake up!!!

    The musical industry dissapoinats me sometimes. I remember when it was cool to be yourself. Like when Rakim and Eric B came out with “I ain’t no joke”….that was an exspression of how they felt. It wasn’t about them glorifying being hard….the song was about living. Being hard just comes with living. Now artist gor rhymes like….I got the keys for the low, and the blow…’s messed up!!! When Nas came out with Hip-Hop is dead, I was wondering. I mean why would an advocate of Hip-Hop release an album with such a name. Then, when I heard it, I realized that he named the album that only to get people to buy it. Pure genius!!! Nas is true to his music. I mean Jay-Z maybe more globally known…but Nas didn’t sell his soul for industry rewards. The same with Luda….I think he gonna end up dropping one of the most powerful and well-thought out albums this game has ever seen. Lil Wayne is just amazing! Let’s not forget that Squad up was a key factor in the evolution of Weezy. Also…Bow Wow is stepping up his game…..the only thing I got to say is “They need to let him be him. He’s not the little kiddy rapper anymore. He’s a grown man!!! Now I was really impressed when I heard KRS-ONE’s “Kill A Rapper”. To me, KRS his the best emcee alive. I say this because he has extroadinary rhyme skills. Hey…KRS…..I see you’re looking for the one…….I maybe him!!!!!
    Anyway……..we can’t change hip-hop..but we can adapt to this change just like LL has been doing all these years. Just like Nas, Rakim, Scarface, UGK, Jay-Z, Gangstarr, Mos Def and Twalib, Master P…it’s so many!!!! Hey if you want some real SOUTH EAST hip-hop!!! Check out my website. Each month I’m a try and post some more blogs up here because I been getting some great reviews!!!
    Practice makes Perfect
    Perfect makes Performance
    and Performance makes Paper!!!

  • Daruffian

    This will be a good look for little brother. The one problem I have with 9th, Phonte pointed out, after awhile all his joints sound the same. The same problem can be heard on the 9th and Buckshot album

  • thoreauly77

    prediction: 9th will incorporate live music into his repertoire, LB will reunite for the next album (with 9th producing one quarter of the album, after getback), tour with tribe on their newest tour/brand new album promo tour, and save the world.

  • EReal

    Damn. Little Brother is hot shit. 9th sounds like a dickhead in this interview. lol.


  • Nino

    Them dude got a lot of talent, they should be able to survive without 9th Wonder regardless of being a great producer

  • smog

    Thoreaully77 has some good predictions i hope they come true. Little bro needs to do thier thing and if that means breaking up with 9th thats what they need to do. 9th needs to respond though. Like ereal, said dude sounds like a punk in that interview.

  • anthony

    LB is my dudes! I can kind of feel what they sayen about 9th kuz when i listen 2 his beats they all fit the same format kind of! He does nees 2 open up more

  • Nur-Allah

    Long live LB

  • Nur-Allah

    How about XXL do something fresh for once and put Little Brother on the cover of the damn mag! And help some real artist get some love

  • Craig T

    i have supported little brother for years now. Although the split sucks, groups break up to make up. Besides each member is equally as talented believe it or not. The new album will not only add to their crediability but be a classic. Trust that!

  • Big Homie

    Ministrel Show is a classic. I had it in rotation not too long ago. What up Es!!

  • public domain

    I was reading an interview with 9th and he seemed like he was on some extra-grown man stuff….He seems like he thinks he’s nicer than he is…I mean from someone who saples like mad you would expect a bit more humbleness….

  • ngennir


  • FLIP

    These niggas are done. No 9th? No care.

  • Real Talk

    I like 9th wonder… But he isn’t spectacular!! Dem LB boyz will be alright!! I’ll take Nicolay and Khrysis over 9th wonder anyday of the week…

  • boom bap

    With out 9th it’s over for the fat boys!!!!!!1

  • stoneyisland

    Damn. Hip hop is officially dead. There are two sides to every story but I believe Pooh and Phonte, 9th come down off that high horse my nigga. I got one word for 9th….Humble.

  • Cami

    LB will be just fine.
    Check for dem Black Milk beats….

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  • Fred D

    I creid when i heard the news… I really hope they can do something in the long run!! DOPE BEATS DOPE RHYMES WHAT MORE DO YALL NIGGAZ WANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Meka Soul

    rip little brother.

  • thehaytidream

    9th Wonder DID NOT make LB what it was…

  • Otis

    Yall should check out that “…and Justice for All..” It was produced by Mick Boogie and was available for free on myspace, i think. It is really good, I would not worry that this is the end of LB. It ain’t for sure.

  • adlib311

    Im glad 9th is out of the group, They have the potential to be a great group, Phonte and Pooh that is. But what do u do when your producers sound gets stale after the 1st 2 albums? Drop his ass, Specially if he aint pushing his wieght with the crew, Im a producer myself, and i allways try to reinvent myself, I dont stay stuck with the same old bullshit that 9th does. Open your fuckin mind and creat new ideas, Thats why his shit fuckin sucks,

  • ccluskin

    way personal. imagined ‘te sheddin’ some tears there at the end.

    keep up the good work es

  • TaMonte

    I feel what they were sayin’ about gettin’ outta the box…… But, u can only do that if u got the finances to distribute ya own music…. Majors are scared of innovation..

  • 336TOTHA919

    Im a big Little Brother Fan, but I don’t think that they are giving 9th his just due. Bottom line is 9th is producer not a MC, so you can’t really directly compare their roles to within the group to one another. Besides if he was my producer I wouldn’t care if he didn’t come on tour with me, really I would want him to be in tha lab making more tracks. Besides all the relevant producers in the game are a bit secretive i.e. DRE. I think it all started when 9th began to make tracks for the likes of Jay-Z, Destinys Child and MJB… That combined with the industry being so “producer driven” right now created a situation where Pooh n Tae were making way less money 9th was. Besides 9th was creating his own buzz in his own way, I don’t know too many producers who are also college professors teaching classes about HIP-HOP at HBCU’s. He’s on his grind, and giving back at the same time teaching young black people about this amazing art and culture that we call HIP-HOP, the man should be applauded for what he is doing. Like I said before he’s not a rapper, so he’s speaking to the youth through his teaching, the same way Pooh and Tae do it through their rymes.

    I think they will eventually get back together once Tae and Pooh realize that 9th is to humble to be out on stage stealing the limelight from his group like so many lame ass non rappin’ producers these days, but also not until 9th realizes that comming out of his box a lil’ bit can only make him a more diverse producer in the long run…

    I’m better than your favorite blogger… 336_MNO “we on it when your not”

    Thanks 4 reading…

  • NoMamesBuey

    The “And Justus for all” legally free mixtape is the ALBUM OF THE YEAR so far. It’s as good or better than their studio albums.

    So the answer is, LB will continue to make dope isht, without 9th Wonder.

    Don’t forget that 9th Wonder’s “producer WCs” like Nicolay, Khrysis & Illmind have made beats on all their albums. Since these dudes are still on the new mixtape, it seems they’re still working with LB also. Plus they got good outside producer beats from RJD2 & Nottz. Bottom line, without 9th, LB still has access to great beats.


    Little Brother I still believe…its sooo wack when we stop doing what works for us…its funny how money makes us relax a little and forget what got us there. I hope Little Brother gets back and at least do something like Big Boi and Andre 3000 did, cut a double/single album?!?!?!??!

  • Pancho

    LB with 9th = classic

    LB without 9th = FIRE!!!!

    No matter what, LB will still be the best rap group today…no one will seem to care though.

  • Taylz

    Phonte and Pooh moving on without 9th? Great move. Now I may buy their next album because I’ll know it may sound different than the same predictable beat.

  • Holla

    Damn, Phonte blacked on 9th. I told yall 9th’s shit is wack. Every beat sounds the same – a soulful loop and the same snare. He fell off hard since the listening.

    Im glad LB ain’t with him. In the long run, this was the best move cause their next album is gonna be something new for them. If they stayed with 9th it would sound exactly like thier last 2 albums. 9th only produces one type of sound – he’s one dimensional.

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  • stoneyisland

    I dont know about that best group shit though, I mean I love LB too but are they that much better than Camp Lo ??????

  • dj k-Nyce

    i like these dudes, but they are always making excuses and in this article they are using 9th as a scapegoat. its all good, because they wont be able to do that on getback and we will see what numbers that album does, and then lets see what the excuse is this time around?

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  • Big Dice

    ^^ But it all aint about numbers. You gotta look at the quality of the music. If the creativity and lyrics and content are there then that is all that mattters. Numbers don,t lie, but they dont always tell the whole truth either.

  • khal

    they really kicked 9th’s back in on this one. respect to all LB factions, but damn. I guess that’s how it be sometimes.

    I wonder how their sound will evolve… they still fucking with khrysis? who they asking to provide heat?


    i think it was that they were just in different places both in location and mindset. i dont think that Phonte was gettin at 9th I think he was just being honest and he probably was so emotional about it cuz he wanted it to work out.

    i mean havent any of yall not seen some homies for a year and then try to get back on the same page and it just isn’t gellin? i mean that shit just happens..9th has alot of shit goin on to outside of LB too whereas for Phonte and Pooh LB is all they got

  • Howard Johnson


  • sdott313

    great read, Te and Pooh are some realla ss niggas and i respect them for it and love their music. i am definetely buying their album when it somes out and people who call themselves “fans” should as well

  • Ben Leinen

    This is really a sad day for hip hop. “Dope beats dope rhymes this rap shit aint really that hard.” I guess it is

  • I Really Know

    I really wish “fans” (people) knew the real. I just wish Te’ and Pooh would make money and keep 9th’s name out of ya mouth. If you really loved him like you say then you would’ve came different….don’t do all this press
    I know all 3 of these dudes on a personal level and Pooh is just a follower, he does whatever Te’ tell him to do….but its all good. Dudes are just mad cause he eating w/or without you!!!! HATERS!!!!

  • ram

    hot damn, Little Brother is hot on And Justus for All.

    Pressure is on of LB’s best tracks for sure, and its without 9th.

    I like the way that 9th lays it down, but some change will be nice, and we will LB take it to a different level. Looking forward to the next drop. I’ll get it in the store for sure

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  • afrosoul

    Please LB dont leave out nicolay on your production team!!!

  • allnice

    9th Wonder had some heat, but sonny is way too one dimensional and predictable with his beats.At some point he has to grow up with his style and try some new things like Ye and Timbaland. The stuff he produced for Bootcamp is pretty bad for real man.

    I think Phonte and Pooh are better off making their own path in the industry without 9th. They might lose 9th’s consistency, but they can be more creative and ultimately appealing to mainstream consumers. This is the best business move they could have made in my opinion.

  • The Famine of #119

    9th, keep doing your thing dog!!!

    Remember, you’re nobody till somebody hates you . . . you got your HATERS now!!!

    Sadly enough, these cats are the same ones that were at all your shows standing right up at the foot of the stage singing “make me hott P, hold me down P” to the top of their lungs, now look at em (LOSERS)!

    Keep doing you 9th! If they really knew music they would know that ALL producers have a sound that is unique. That’s why you can hear a Swizz beat, a Pete Rock beat, a Timbo beat, or a Pharell beat from a mile away.

  • kobehater

    either make a pop record or stop complaining. Man i’m tired of these assholes who are always complaining about record sales. If you wanna sell then ake something for the radio you fuckin suckers. And these motherfuckers suck anyway no one cares. You motherfuckers will never sell.haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

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  • J.R.O.

    Phonte: It was just a thing where a rap group is harder to market. I don’t think they knew what they were getting into with us.

    Every new act’s excuse for not selling.

    I fucks with Little Brother tho’. 9th gone sucks.

  • Jake Sapp

    Damn, That trio was one of my fav’s man. Little Brother Was pure hiphop. I can’t belive 9th is out! I wish them all the best. “Can’t stop, wont Stop”

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    Produced by Zee…Hottest Production coming from a 16 year old in the UK


  • Jabtastic

    Bouncing 9th was not the best move to make. I know kids tracks sound similar, buthe unplugs more heat than most of these producers out here. To be real i have been checking for LB since their inception, and 9th has always been hot. Te and Poo are the real deal too, but when you throw 9th in the mix, everything just goes better.
    Nevertheless, in the end, LB still got Khrysis, Nicolay, Nottz, Kev Brown, and a number of other hot producers so life will go on. As for 9th, heads already know that the kid is the truth, and his light is going to keep shinning no matter how cloudy the game gets….

  • Deojae`

    I feel what the group sayin’ with 9th due to him havin’ unexplored musical abilities not recorded, but Are you listening to what he makes? That shit is beautiful! That singing and stuff, his drum selection in his creations is outstanding! And personally, I think his beats are to good for such limited rhymers as Little Brother. The new jam he got with Murs called “Love & Appreciation” is an incredible piece of work.

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    Prod. by Zee!

  • Napalm

    I still respect all of them dudes. Chopping samples is 9th’s signature. Why would he change especially if it’s not coming from within. I think they believe that 9th changing his style will increase their fan base but it is what it is. They are a funky throw back group that will always sell no more than 200,000 units. They should remain independent so they can make some dough and be content with that.

  • Napalm

    I heard that Dj Drama mixtape and with the exception of track 2, they sounded real wack over non 9th beats. As soon as I hear em start spitting over club beats, I’m ghost. 9th may have needed to be checked but they still sound good over that boom bap. Their only hope is to let Khrysis(who’s better than 9th on the low)handle bulk poduction.

  • Qmegaman / Dj C’Lea

    Ther are many great producers mainstream and UNDERGROUND, them mainstreams producers have to watch what they put out cause the crowd has controll over their beats to a certains degree. If the peoples aint jumpin’ to the song, and the producer aint gettin paid enuf, then he /she gon fold up and run another direction. but DEM UNDERGROUND Producers like myself who is very hungry and strong minded on the outside lookin in, we see whats happenin’ so we calculate the corrections. 9th Wonder left, and Little Brother is lookin’ for NEW Beats and I got connects with em’ no disrespect to 9th, but thaats the way it is in this world. ” Another Mans trash is Another Mans Wealth”. Letws Do This. Call you later ‘Te.

  • prie

    still got


    SO MANY producers that oculd help them out, i hope he still produces even SOME tracks for them, PLEASEEEEE

  • TA

    To me this is a damn shame that they couldn’t work something out together, to me little brother without a 9th wonder beat is like ham without chesse, or peanut butter without jelly. I will always be a little brother fan for life, but without 9th wonder doing the under rating production work, the next album “The GetBack” will miss that wounderful hip hop sound like “The Listening” and “The Minstrel Show” peace to big pooh and phonte i’ll still mess with the album when it drops later this summer.

  • DJ Q-Man

    Pooh and Phonte are great MCs… but in all honesty… without 9th they are nothing… IT’S A FACT!!! Even Phonte had to say it himself… DOPE BEATS, dope rhymes, what more could ya’ll want… The getback should be called The Downfall… cause that is what’s gonna happen to them… SCRATCH MAGAZINE IS KING!!!

  • Laurence Bell Jr.

    Damn man… i love little brother. And to hear that 9th left, was sad but i bought the album Get Back and to me…. it’s the best little brother album yet. Keep ya heads up pooh and te

  • Too Funny

    I listened to The Getback, and all it does is make you realize that 9th made Little Brother hot. You could have put any decent emcess on the Listening, 1.5, and The Minstrel Show and it would have sounded just as good as they do with Pooh and Phonte’ on it. 9th’s Music in my opinion was more valuable to Little Brother’s previous success than the rapping skills of the two emcees. Its like Slum Village after J Dilla..its like “who are these two knuckleahds??”

    • steelwaterz

      This is DIRECTED to Too Funny:

      You are tOOOOO funny. I know everyone is entitled to there opinion and all that, but you are the reason that innocent babies die everyday.

      and that is my opinion…

      Both LB and 9th are incredible artist in their own right. Slum Village-( Jay-DEE R.I.P., T3, Batin, Elzhi) are incredible and masterful artist in their own right. You need to take some time and listen REALLY LISTEN.

  • Kevin Davis

    LB are one of the most underrated mc’s it was a shame 9th wonder left ….but hey life moves on.

    i hope they all see sense & hook up again but LB have proved they can roll on other cats beats & still rock the shit. i wouldlove them to hook up with Premo / Kanye & Madlib even Pharrell

  • Black cee

    This is going to be big upset for me, because I love there music and I hate that a dope group like this breaking up. I wish maybe in the future they will get back together.