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The Listening

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Album Review

In Little Brother's music, the North Carolina group makes a specific point to highlight the more refined aspects of mid-'90s hip-hop. Basing its 2002 sound upon the foundation previously established by the likes of Pete Rock, A Tribe Called Quest, Jay Dee, and Black Star, Little Brother makes somewhat of a political statement by applying such standards to this modern age. The Listening does an exceptional job of proving that soulful meditations have indeed retained their traditional relevancy within the contemporary realms of rap. 9th Wonder's production leads the charge with distinct drum kicks pacing larger-than-life melodic samples, which are often enhanced with sultry female voice-overs. Meanwhile, Phonte and Big Pooh dig even deeper within the hip-hop vaults as they draw upon classic routines by the likes of Rakim, Slick Rick, and Audio 2 for their lyrical inspiration. Whether engaged in storytelling, braggadocio, or simple reassurance, the rhyming duo complements 9th Wonder's varying shades of mood music with a consistent degree of skill and sincerity. The album both starts and finishes strongly, with "For You," "Speed," "Nighttime Maneuvers," and the title track serving as its most stellar moments. Despite its unavoidably derivative orientation, The Listening is a finely crafted musical document, composed by artists who want nothing more than to provide even just a glimpse of hip-hop purity within an ever-expanding maze of cultural deterioration.

Customer Reviews

If you love hip-hop, you need to check out this out...

I'm not gonna sit here and preach about how 90% of hip-hop is radio-friendly garbage these days. If you're interested in this album--you already know that. I will say that if you're a fan of the Native Tongue Posse and and rap music from the Golden Era, you should own this. Little Brother picked up where A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and the JB's left off. 9th Wonder's production is off the hook, and Phonte and Big Pooh always come correct with the Lyrics. Open your mind and give Little Brother a chance, you won't regret it...

Sad this will never go Platinum either

This is what Hip Hop should be. This album is a timeless classic in my book. Stays in rotation on my I-pod. I didnt discover it till summer 04. Wow I have been pumping this since then. Conceptually brilliant. 9th Wonder puts you in the mind of Pete Rock. Phonte and Big Pooh are truly unique with flow and wordplay. Two "sick" mcs who arent fooling me. I know damn well they can't be from N.C. No way!!!!!! My favorite in this order : 1 Away from me (Cold Blooded) 2 The Listening (I love this joint...funny as hell but true) Check all these b's on my soulglow.. 3 Shorty on the lookout 4 The way you do it 5 Love Joint Revisited 6 Nobody But You 7 The Yo-Yo 8 So Fabulous Amazing album.....untouchable So Beautiful..So Fabulous

Not as good as Minstrel

The first LB album I got was Minstrel Show and pretty soon I was captivated by the smooth rhythms of 9th wonder and the lyrical prowess of the duo. I looked back at their older selection and Chitlin Circuit was alos excellent but the Listening was lacking slightly in my mind. I might change my mind upon further listens but as of now I would recommend the other albums before this one.


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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Customer Ratings


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