RIP Little Brother

I received my special music critics version of Little Brother’s LeftBack when it hit the Internets towards the end of last week, listened to it once, and haven’t thought about it since. Probably wouldn’t have just now, if it wasn’t a slow news day, and I didn’t think it might save me from having to listen to any of those godawful new Shyne songs.

Part of it’s that I’ve been spending a shedload of time working like a Hebrew slave at the BGM – which gets that much harder not to view as some sort of subsidy I’m providing to hip-hop journalism, when it gets to be tax season. Once I get done cutting a check to Uncle Sam, most of which I’m sure is just forwarded to Israel, I’m left with the kind of money kids make to sew soccer balls together in India. Just now, I saw that infographic that’s been rounding the Innanets about how many times someone has to stream your song on Spotify in order to make the national minimum wage here in the US (probably more times than any song has been streamed on Spotify), and I was like, Seriously? People who make minimum wage are bringing in $1,160 a month? Not that I’m complaining. I’m just saying. If homeless shelters had the Internets, plus a private booth where people couldn’t see what I might be looking at, I’d have an important decision to make.

But I digress.

If I wanted to, I probably could have made LeftBack the soundtrack to one of the self-medicinal benders that took place between Friday and now, but I figured why bother. It’s not like I have to hurry up and cover it before there’s a new Little Brother album to cover. There’s never gonna be another Little Brother album. LeftBack has been presented, in the press run-up to its release, as the last go-round for what’s left of Little Brother, and I’m tempted to believe that’s true.

You get the idea that there wouldn’t have been LeftBack, if it weren’t for the fact that Phonte felt obligated to make a clean, amicable split with his lightweight, Big Pooh. Lest he end up with a situation like the one he’s in with 9th Wonder. I saw the other day where Phonte leaked a song he’d once done with 9th Wonder, that 9th Wonder hadn’t approved of, and the two of them ended up going back and forth on Twitter, like a couple of fags arguing over what to order from the California Pizza Kitchen. (I’m not suggesting they’re gay. I’m just using a metaphor.)

As if.

9th Wonder couldn’t possibly have thought that there was any money to be made from what’s yet to be released of the stuff he did with Little Brother. If there was, I’m sure they’d be in the studio as we “speak,” regardless of whatever animosity exists between the three of them – which must be way more intense than they let on back when GetBack was released, snarky album title notwithstanding. I don’t doubt that Phonte is a different man from what he was 10 years ago, as discussed on LeftBack, but I’m at a loss for how that would preclude him from continuing to release albums as Little Brother any more than it precluded him from putting out LeftBack. Obviously, the main issue is that he can make way more (er, at least some) money catering to the grown and sexy crowd with Foreign Exchange than he can make with Little Brother, catering to broke dreaded n-words who are just gonna steal his shit anyway and then talk shit about him on the Internets.

I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing, if I thought there was any way I could make my writing more palatable to the hoodrat demographic, where all of the money is.

But it must suck for those other two. To think, there was a time when 9th Wonder’s split from Little Brother was viewed as a matter of him leaving the two fat guys behind, if only to lessen the probability of him dying in a plane crash, but also because he could make way more money producing records for other people. To his credit, I’m sure he made more money from that one beat he did on the Black Album – which somehow didn’t end up on the cutting room floor, despite the fact that Jay apparently turns down beats from guys like Pete Rock and Primo as if they were fat chicks – than Little Brother has made in its career to date. But what else has he done? I heard he landed a plum gig teaching spoiled children how to operate a sampler, which is the kind of career I’m looking into, even though I’ve never so much as been in the same room as a sampler, but it can’t compare to charging artists for beats. Let me guess, no one’s interested in buying.

Then there’s Big Pooh, whose situation is way more tragic than 9th Wonder’s, and not just because there’s nothing he can teach, unless colleges start offering a major in eating a ham sandwich. The reason is twofold: (1) Big Pooh outside the context of Little Brother is completely worthless; (2) Phonte the rapper is probably better in the context of Little Brother. The former obviously requires no explanation or further discussion. The latter is moot, if Phonte is done rapping for good. But what if he isn’t? I can’t say for certain that a Phonte solo album wouldn’t be the proverbial tits, but I do enjoy a Little Brother album – especially the last two. And there isn’t much of a precedent for rappers who were members of good groups who went on to have even better solo careers. Some rappers are clearly meant to be members of groups, and some rappers are clearly meant to go solo. The worst would be if Phonte ditched Big Pooh just to put out another rap album, without him, that wasn’t nearly as good as a Little Brother album. Even though Big Pooh doesn’t seem to contribute much to Little Brother, there could be a certain chemistry between the two of them. No homo.

  • Mr. North

    Check out “Best of Times” feat. Phonte off that Stoney Jackson album. Madlib did the beat and Phonte on the chorus. He killed his verse. I dont think LB was the truth but at least they were tryin to search for it by putting out the type of music they wanted to make.

  • Sha

    I’m gonna come at people different with this one. I personally believe that Little Brother is not dead. 9th has continuously said he would be open to reuniting with them when they said the word. Everyone knows that Phonte is the Eqo-Queen in the group. Pooh just wanted his boys to get along. And 9th has always been a down to earth dude (as witnessed by his numerous interviews and the fact that he will work with almost anyone). One day Phonte will recognize his errors. I am not saying that 9th didn’t play is part. It takes two to hold an argument. But Phonte has been on some stuff (stupid comments I.E. Kanye, 9th, Eternia). Hip Hop needs the group. They will be successful. But 3 together makes LITTLE BROTHER.

  • Tafigga

    “Probably wouldn’t have just now, if it wasn’t a slow news day,”

    ^^Explains this whole blog.

    • SlickerThanRick

      Co-Sign

      Seriously, Bol, i dont know anybody who cares about LB.
      It must have been a real slow day…or maybe you spent too long on the Mal Malloy web-page to patch together a decent piece before your ‘deadline’ was due.

  • CLARK

    Little Brother is Phonte, Big Pooh, and 9th Wonder.

    Subtract any of the three and it is no longer Little Brother, period.

    • BIGNAT

      exactly

  • AVENGERXL

    This was bound to happen. unfortuantely Little brother just couldn’t catch a break. This is a problem with this niche of the hip-hop genre. They don’t seem to have a decent marketing team because they are still pretty indie and their “” fans are a bunch of internet pirates for the most parts but will constantly complain about the lack of anyone with skills getting anywhere in hip-hop. At the end of the day this is a business and for LB business was not that good. This happened to J zone a while back with less fanfare. I am waiting on Twalib and Jean Grae to offically throw in the towel any day now.

  • giantstepp

    BORING!! Your shit always gets weak in the middle of the month. Step your shit up Bol! I gotta admit your a beast with the blogs, but you get lazy at times. Stop busting them extra shifts at the BGM and focus on your *clears throat* ahem, excuse me…”writing”.

  • epinz

    following u for as long as i have, i knew that u would write a post on little brother. as irrelevant as they seem to be, u show them more love/hate than any other blogger on the net.little brother and clipe r my favorite groups of the past decade. and im sure ur gunna miss them as much as i do!

  • fredMS

    i feel like there have only been a handful of rap groups in the last decade, so the end of little brother is a big deal. i think its one of the reasons why rap isn’t as relatable, cuz its jus one dude talking about his problems and shit. i don’t give a fuck about drake and him complaining about why no one respects him. if there were groups, i’d think mc’s would actually filter a lot of the bullshit theyre spitting

  • http://www.emcdl.com EmCDL

    Ya’ll know I’m a LB stan, so it sucks to see that they are officially breaking up. The Minstrel Show was by far their best album (and their mixtape Chitlin Circuit 1.5); Get back was good but it didn’t have that feel with it. I’m still a fan of them till I die, but I agree with Sha: without 9th its just a lost cause.

    And Bol I don’t know why you be hating on Big Pooh (even though its funny) but on some tracks, dude be putting in work! All you gotta do is listen to that track “Hiding Place” on the Minstrel Show album and that speaks for itself.

  • Trap Counselor

    The Minstrel Show is a classic and Pooh has bars for days. He might not really know how to make a song, but he can rap well, end of story.

    What’s funny, Bol, is that outside of your ‘criticisms’ you don’t actually listen to rap. One peek at your last.fm or whatever account proves this. So when you sit down and actually try to formulate some theories based around rap music or rappers’ relative talent (and not hilarious speculation on the business aspect or rappers’ personal lives) you make no sense. Mostly you’re funny and oddly insightful, but you should stop trying to analyze rap-music. That’s Noz’ and a few other white dudes’ arena.

  • beaver

    gay blogg..
    i couldn’t even read past the 3rd paragraph..

    1st fail from bol..

  • latino heat

    9th has also produced for Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Detiny’s Child, Ludacris. so he is doing alright.

    but yeah, i’m gonna miss LB too. hopefully in a few years they wlll do a reunion album and tour with all 3 members.

  • Will

    This blog almost made me give a damn about Little Brother… 9th cool but could care less about the other 2 guys

  • oskamadison

    Hip-Hop needs a group like Little Brother whether or not we know it. As much as I like all the thug shit (when creatively done), I like listening to dudes who are talking about some of the things that regular dudes go through. And as I say this, I’m probably one of the reasons they’re breaking up, being one of many listeners who own their music and didn’t spend not one rusty Lincoln to get it. I hope they (meaning all three) can one day just say “to hell with it” and go back in. Until then, maybe I’ll actually buy Leftback…but not before I find The Listening first.

  • RudNare

    “Once I get done cutting a check to Uncle Sam, most of which I’m sure is just forwarded to Israel, I’m left with the kind of money kids make to sew soccer balls together in India”

    “Then there’s Big Pooh, whose situation is way more tragic than 9th Wonder’s, and not just because there’s nothing he can teach, unless colleges start offering a major in eating a ham sandwich. ”

    HaHaHaHaHa…*choking* Man, U killing me! :)

  • BIGLEG

    LB is going down as one of the ILLEST groups in hip-hop history, for those who know what they are talking about. The Listening is classic.

    Phonte will be around for a long time.

  • P. Harris

    Long time stan of Little Brother, plus I’m from Raleigh, NC… and all our local rappers sound like shit… (youtube “raleigh nc hip hop”)

    smdh…

    So, Little Brother has been sliced bread to me. Representing NC hip hop underground that really gets no kind of love locally. I think those 3 guys love hip hop too much not to come back together at some point in time and do another album. They each just want to explore their own identity as artist. I mean, hell, 9th is rapping now…

    But anyway, all 3 have talent, I wish them all the best. Hope they dissolve their issues.

    I’m copping the album just for the love…

  • Joe

    Phonte just got nominated for a grammy for SINGING, that nigga aint thinkin bout Bol and his blog.

    BTW, hav yall ever seen this guy, Byron, that yall constantly suck off and cater to?? LOL He’s a loser! Byron is literally a walking punchline. LOL google Complex Mag’s funniest internet videos of the 2000s, Byron is top 10, and all he did was talk in an interview LOL They found him that ‘funny’…He’s an oddball, a blade as we call them. He literally looks like Reggie Vel Johnson LMAO (google it)…If i were a celeb I would ROAST this ngga. Damn shame the sheild that the internet provides for people like him *SIGH* But dont mind me, yall contiue with yall ‘Aww man Bol, u killin me’ shyt LOL Lames

  • raazi36

    Phonte will be around an more relevent in the next 5 years than 9th wonder an Rapper Big Pooh, it hurt to say that… anyways still gonna get the new album, i can always go back to earlier LB albums to remember the happy times

  • http://www.plasticsquirtguns.blogspot.com thoreauly77

    (looks over at cd collection, sees LB’s first three albums)

    a few things: BP only looks “bad” in comparison to the man rapping next to him. phonte has a gift for being able to convey profound truths in 32 bars and a chorus; its fucking amazing. pooh just straight up spits bars. but he IS talented.

    as for LB breaking up, well, truth be told, they broke up years ago when 9th left. i say this not to detract from the quality of the getback but merely to make a point, namely, would we consider de la a group without maseo? would tribe have been tribe without ali shaheed? the answer is “no”.

    its time for all of these guys to just squash it, or finally move on “separate but equal”.