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The Listening

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The Listening introduced the world to the blend of 9th Wonder's soulful and chunky beats—which the producer teased out of budget software—and MCs Phonte and Big Pooh's lyrics, which flip between book-smart and cocky. The melancholic "Speed" skillfully weaves together references to Dred Scott, Brand Nubian and Baryshnikov over an emotion-drenched beat, while the bluegrass-sampling "The Way You Do It" has the group reflecting on early days spent paying dues.


Formed: 2001 in Durham, NC

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Part of the new millennium resurgence of alternative rap, Little Brother drew from atypical inspirations for Southern hip-hop: classic Native Tongues outfits like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as more recent torch-bearers like the Roots and Black Star. MCs Phonte (born Phonte Coleman) and Big Pooh (born Thomas Jones) swapped rhymes with an easy chemistry, but the group's real focal point was DJ/producer 9th Wonder (born Pat Douthit), an old-school sampling technician who quickly established...
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The Listening, Little Brother
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