Little Brother’s “The Minstrel Show” Turn 10 Years Old

You just never know how you will come across great music. Summer of 2005, I had no idea who Little Brother was. I was playing the Kanye “Late Registration” Album and taking a couple Jeezy TM 101 breaks here and there.

Working at Champs; I think I was stocking shoes, and I had my back to the screen and all of a sudden, I hear.

“How can it be? She wrote her number down it’s here in front of me…”

A lot of you may not understand exactly how powerful the soul sample was in 2005. It could literally stop traffic if done right. This one, was done real right! So I immediately started watching the video.

Off top very impressed with the first guy rapping on it, which I later found out was Phonte. I said to myself, dude is kind of nice. I actually want to hear him on some other tracks. I like Rapper Big Pooh also but I really liked Joe Scudda’s flow and delivery. He wasn’t that typical new white rapper. He wasn’t too “urban acting” and he wasn’t off beat but lyrically impressive and to be on that particular beat made it that much more impressive. At first listen I thought it was Alchemist, lol.

I ended up finding out 9th, Pooh and Phonte were a rap group called Little Brother. At that time, I didn’t realize how many tracks 9th Wonder had done. That 2004-2005 moment in the game was FLOODED with Kanye, Just Blaze, The Runners, Cool and Dre and Swizz Beatz. 9th had put out some gems like Jay-Z’s “Threats”, Destiny Child’s “Girl” and the entire Sean Price Monkey Barz album to name just a notable few.

I remember my guy Randy seeing me bobbing my head super hard to the video probably the 10th time I saw the video come up on the screen.

He told me: “Cam, you might really dig Little Brother man. They don’t kill anybody or do any of that other ish that’s popping right now, but they def got some good music. Then he told me check out Chitlin Circuit 1.5.

My first mission was to get whatever project “Im Loving It” was on. I doubt it was the exact day of release, but after September 13, 2005 I definitely was checking in on Best Buy and asking about it, till I seen it and copped it.

The conceptual album will always be held in high regard if the right artist drops it. A lot of artist just gives us 12-16 songs, but it really doesn’t equate to a moment or an audio biography or story. The Minstrel Show album does that. Set up like an old school “Ed Sullivan style” TV show, The Minstrel Show is a great lyrical, visual work top to bottom.

Favorite tracks on the album

“Beautiful Morning”
“The Becoming”
“Not Enough” featuring Darien Brockington
“Hiding Place” featuring Elzhi
“Slow It Down” featuring Darien Brockington
“Lovin’ It” featuring Joe Scudda
“All for You”
“Watch Me” featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff
“We Got Now” featuring Chaundon

They called this album “The Minstrel Show”, which in itself is known as a negative term and speaks to a time of stereotypical, blackface entertainment and they give us great bars, melody and food for thought. 2005 was the dawn of “Snap Music” and many may tell you that Snap was the real minstrel show of that year.

When I first heard “All For You”, I was thinking damn, that could be me. Ten years later, that song in a lot of respects is speaking to a couple different periods in my life; Both Verses. My boy Sly’s favorite joint was “Slow It Down”. He was start singing the hook and then start singing the melody of the track. It was hilarious but I felt him. The song was so hard and again, Phonte spoke some things that are just all too real in my life.

In 2015, 9th Wonder is still one of my favorite producers ever and I had a chance to meet him as well as Chaundon down in ATL for A3C in 2014. Phonte, I feel is clearly one of the most overlooked and underrated emcee’s and singers of this hip-hop era. I could also argue that in 2005 he was firmly in the Top 5 of rappers that year, possibly top 3 and although he’s in “Foreign Exchange” now and they are killing it, I got to say, hip-hop needs Little Brother albums.

Is this a classic album? I always have difficulty saying that when it comes to albums like this. Albums that sound phenomenal, yet don’t really chart, break ground or even change the sound or style of the game. What I can say is, it’s an awesome body of work and definitely one of the best rap albums I’ve ever purchased. I would recommend it to anyone who just wants to hear great rap music. I would say it’s timeless and it’s still millions more that need to listen to this and everything else that Phonte, Pooh and 9th do, as well as Chaundon, Darien Brockington Khrysis, Joe Scudda and the rest of the J-League. I can say that this album spoke to me at a time when I was coming of age and really thinking about my life differently, so it holds a special place with me always.

Bottom Line, LB did the music that the “starved masses” who scream “hip-hop is dead” wanted. I wonder how many of them have even 5 projects total from this camp. The Minstrel Show album is one of the main reason I’ve never complained about any year of hip-hop, but I also don’t summarize hip-hop and rap music by what charts and is played on the radio. Even though you are ultra late, buy Little Brother’s “The Minstrel Show”. It truly is one of the best body’s of work over the last 10 years. Like Top 25 without even thinking.

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