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Little Brother was an American hip hop group from Durham, North Carolina that consisted of rappers Phonte and Big Pooh (from 2001 to 2010), and DJ/producer 9th Wonder (from 2001 to 2007).
The group produced four acclaimed studio albums and six mixtapes during their nine-year existence.Little Brother was highly regarded among fans and critics.Early career and The Listening albumThe individual members of the group, rappers Phonte (Phonte Coleman), and Rapper Big Pooh (Thomas Jones), and DJ/producer 9th Wonder (Pat Douthit), met in 1998 while enrolled as college students at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina.
The group began as a trio.
Little Brother were members of the North Carolina-based alternative hip hop collective, Justus League.In a February 2003 interview with MVRemix.com, Phonte explained the origins of the group's name:The official debut for Little Brother came in August 2001 with their first recording, "Speed".They continued to work the local, Raleigh-Durham-area scene and were eventually signed by independent record label ABB Records.
In 2002, they released the cult hit 7" single "Atari 2600", with lyrics centering around video games.In 2003, the group released their first full length studio album, The Listening to critical acclaim.
National recognition for the group, and particularly 9th Wonder, came when Jay-Z tapped 9th Wonder for the song "Threat", from his eighth studio album The Black Album.Following the release of The Listening, Little Brother opened for Oakland-based alternative hip hop collective Hieroglyphics on the latter's Full Circle national tour.The Minstrel Show albumLittle Brother's second album, The Minstrel Show, released in September 2005, saw increased success for the group due to their raised popularity and praise for the album from critics.
The album's theme compared present day rap music and the music industry to the minstrel shows of the late 19th century.In 2005, Little Brother became embroiled in a short-lived feud, when Young Jeezy's protégé Slick Pulla challenged the group to a battle after hearing an interview in which Phonte voiced some disapproval concerning "drug rap" and Young Jeezy's "snowman mascot".
Little Brother did not respond, and instead, Phonte called Slick Pulla and the pair resolved the misunderstanding.Getback album and 9th Wonder's departureIn late 2006, Little Brother began recording their third album, and second for Atlantic Records, Getback.
However, in January 2007, the group announced both their departure from Atlantic and that producer 9th Wonder had left the group.The move from Atlantic was due to the commercial failure of The Minstrel Show, and creative differences over the group's future material.
Rapper Big Pooh said:The group's manager Big Dho added that there were no "ill feelings towards their (Atlantic) company."The group's reason for the break from Atlantic and for 9th Wonder's departure was ultimately due to creative differences, but in both cases, the break and departure were described as amicable.As to 9th Wonder's departure from the group, Rapper Big Pooh was quoted as saying:On October 23, 2007 Little Brother released Getback, the long awaited follow-up to The Minstrel Show.
With no major video or radio airplay, Getback sold approximately 9,600 copies during its first week in stores and landed at No.
89 on the Billboard 200 chart.
The album consisted of 11 songs, and featured several guests, most notably New Orleans-based rapper Lil Wayne.
Lil Wayne had been a longtime fan of the group's work and was invited to rap on the third verse for "Breakin My Heart".Following the release of Getback in late 2007, Little Brother toured with Los Angeles-based altnernative hip hop artist Evidence of Dilated Peoples.The remainder of 2007 found Little Brother working on becoming completely independent artists and putting out records on their own.
Big Pooh told L.A.
Record in an April 2008 interview that "For the next record, we definitely want ownership—the first record we'll have 100% ownership of."...And Justus For All mixtapeFollowing the release of Getback, in mid-2008, Little Brother officially released their 2007 mixtape ...And Justus For All with DJ Mick Boogie taking over production duties for the departed 9th Wonder.
The mixtape was released through the Hall of Justus collective with Little Brother controlling the project.In a June 2008 interview with HipHopDX.com, Rapper Big Pooh said:...And Justus For All featured 5 new songs as well as enhanced mastered versions of songs on their 2007 mixtape with DJ Mick Boogie.
The CD version contained 5 new songs for the album and the iTunes version had 7 new songs.
The iTunes version linked former groupmate 9th Wonder to the group with the single, "Black Light Special".Individual member side-projectsOutside of Little Brother, Phonte began a collaboration with Netherlands-based producer Nicolay as the group The Foreign Exchange, that ultimately resulted in the release of their debut album, Connected, in 2004.
The Foreign Exchange released their follow-up album entitled Leave It All Behind, in October 2008.Rapper Big Pooh released a solo album entitled Sleepers in 2005.
In 2009, he released two albums, The Delightful Bars, and Rapper's Delight.
In early 2010, Rapper Big Pooh released The Purple Tape mixtape as a free download.
This mixtape featured Big Pooh rhyming over Detroit-based producer Black Milk's instrumentals from a collection that used Prince Purple Rain album samples.9th Wonder has produced songs for major artists like Jay-Z, De La Soul and Destiny's Child, as well as underground artists such as Sean Price and Wale.
9th Wonder has produced entire, full-length studio albums for Jean Grae (Jeanius), Murs (Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition), Buckshot (Chemistry and The Formula), as well as a remix album of Nas' God's Son entitled God's Stepson.Leftback album, hiatus, and disbandmentDuring a May 2008 interview with HipHopGame.com, Rapper Big Pooh hinted that he and Phonte may never record another album together:In June 2009, Phonte announced the forthcoming Little Brother album, Leftback, but also announced that the group would subsequently take a Black Star-esque hiatus, wherein he and Big Pooh would continue to collaborate on projects, but that another group album would not be released for a long while.Shortly before the April 2010 release of what would become Little Brother's final studio album, Leftback, Phonte and 9th Wonder exchanged pointed Twitter messages regarding Little Brothers' release of a previously unreleased 9th Wonder produced single, "Star", on the Leftback album.Shortly after the release of Leftback on April 10, 2010, Little Brother formally announced the group's breakup.
Rapper Big Pooh noted:Phonte added: