So, I've been listening to this Little Brother Get Back album non-stop since I got it the other day (thanks Tay). The shit is hot, literally. I've been playing it so much that the disc burned my fingers when I took it out the deck.

Riding around to it reminded me of three other albums:

8Ball & MJG's On Top Of the World (1995)

UGK's Ridin' Dirty (1996)

Outkast's Aquemini (1998)

Of course, there are some obvious parallels in this synergy. All four of the albums I named are from duos. All four of them are third albums (unless you want to count Ball & G's Lyrics of A Pimp and UGK's The Southern Way as their debuts).

But deeper than, I feel that all of these albums capture the groups at their most cohesive moments. Of course, you may disagree, but listening to LB's The Listening takes me back to how I felt about all three of these groups first albums. You loved 8Ball, and liked MJG on Comin' Out Hard. You knew all of Pimp C's lyrics, but only a few of Bun B's words on Hard To Swallow. Big Boi would rock the show, but Dre would steal it on Southernplayalistic... And then with The Listening, you'd say "damn, who is this Phonte nigga?" and then "um, who is this Big Pooh dude?"

With each of their second albums, all of these groups either went for a theme or experimented. LB bucked the establishment on The Minstrel Show while 'Kast went comic book on ya'll ass with ATLiens. UGK mixed Screw and live instruments on Super Tight while Ball & G ushered in that trademarked Suave sound on Outside Lookin' In.

Fast forward to the third albums, LB's balance on Get Back gives off the same feeling of MJG showing his ass on songs like "Friend or Foe" or "All In My Mind" from OTOTW. Or Bun B going the fuck off on "Murder" and "Fuck My Car" on RD. Or Big getting down on both of "The Art of Storytellings" and shining solo on "Slump" from Aquemini. Its almost like Pooh went in and said "shied, a nigga can't write blogs and shit, fuck it, rap nigga."

Another parallel I found is that each of these third albums showed the group's growth and showcased them at their most vulnerable and most creative. Sure Ball & G gave great narratives, but not like how they did on "Hand of the Devil." Big bad ass, trill ass UGK weren't making songs like "One Day," "Diamonds & Wood" or "Hi-Life" pre-Ridin' Dirty. 'Kast wasn't making funked out spoken word tracks like "SpottieOttieDopaliscious." Even though LB has always touched on self-loathing and loyalty, songs like "Can't Win For Losing" and "That Ain't Love" have them doing it the best.

Oh yeah, all three of these albums are what I consider to be "breakthrough." Before Ball & G came with OTOTW, folks tried to lump them in a "Southern Gangsta" category. Yeah, they had plenty of Gangsta shit on their records, but OTOTW showed and proved that the Fat Mack & Pimp Tight deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as Mobb Deep and Dogg Pound (interesting fact: Dogg Food and OTOTW both dropped on the same day, Halloween '95). Peep thier Run-DMC'ish chemistry on "Pimp In My Own Rhyme" if you need an example. And man, I don't care, this IS Ball & G's tightest album production wise. Just listen to this shit if you don't believe me.

The same goes for Ridin' Dirty. Pimp C and N.O. Joe went deep down into their bag of tricks to produce gems like "Murder" and "Ridin' Dirty." And it doesn't hurt that tracks like "Bumper & Grill" "Break 'Em Off Somethin'" were made around this time, further showing that Pimp was, and still is a beast on the production.

Aquemini doesn't need much explanation. Can you think any other album that has features ranging from Raekwon to Badu to George Clinton to Backbone and Witchdoctor? Organized Noize put their foot in this album, just as they did on Witchdoctor and Cool Breeze's albums. What were they smoking in 1998?

Get Back is proving that {gasp} these niggas just might be better off without 9th Wonder doing ALL of the beats. I mean, busting on other folks beats is what made people go out and get the Clipse's Got It For Cheap mixtapes and crown them classics, ain't it? I won't be surprised if folks do the same with Get Back. I'm sure you liked Tay and Pooh on 9th's production, but you'd be lying if you said you wouldn't want to hear them on some Hi-Tek shit. Some Mr. Porter shit. Or that hearing them on Illmind's shit from Chitlin Circuit 1.5 didn't intrigue you.

Of course, you'd have to hear Get Back for yourself to see where I'm coming from. Hell, alot you might have to go back get On Top of the World, Ridin' Dirty and Aquemini (which I'm confident that out all four of these albums, most of you have) too. If the case I'm making is true, maybe Clipse are gonna follow suit with their third [actally available at the store] album.

P.S. For all my East Coasters who may feel left out or fogotten here are some notable third albums from duos that further show the point I'm making:

Run-DMC's Raising Hell

EPMD's Business As Usual

Mobb Deep's Murda Muzik Hell On Earth (counting Juvenile Hell)

[No Fiascogate here folks]