Über Little Brother
A trio repping for Raleigh-Durham NC, Little Brother entered the rap game riding some significant hype after winning gushing praise from The Roots' rhythm master ?uestlove. Comprising Big Pooh and Phonte on the mic with 9th Wonder on production, they released their much-anticipated debut LP The Listening on Beni B's ABB label in 2003. Revered for their mellow, bling-free rhyme style and soulful, golden-era-influenced beats, they quickly ascended to the top of the crowded underground scene, especially amongst jaded older fans who considered them the second coming of ATCQ and Pete Rock. In particular, 9th Wonder got a lot of attention from indie and mainstream artists alike; Jay-Z had him contribute a cut on The Black Album, and hooked him up with Destiny's Child for their single "Girl." He also produced entire albums for MURS (Living Legends) and Black Moon frontman Buckshot. Meanwhile, Phonte teamed up with Nicolay (a Dutch producer heavily influenced by 9th) for the much-sweated transcontinental collabo record The Foreign Exchange: Connected (2004), and Big Pooh dropped the excellent solo piece Sleepers (2005). Thanks to quality music and tons of good press, the group was picked up by Atlantic Records and released their sophomore LP The Minstrel Show in the fall of 2005. The album was deemed a classic by SCRATCH magazine and XXL, while the editor of The Source resigned from his post after co-CEO and aging never-ran Benzino lowered Little Brother's mic rating. In addition to the LB and their outside projects, they are also part of the Justus League, a 12-man hip-hop collective that includes the Away Team, Cesar Comanche, Legacy and Chaundon.