The Listening (Little Brother album)

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The Listening
Studio album by Little Brother
Released February 25, 2003
Recorded 2002
Genre Hip hop
Length 65:13
Label ABB Records
Producer 9th Wonder
Eccentric
Little Brother chronology
The Listening
(2003)
The Minstrel Show
(2005)
Singles from The Listening
  1. "Whatever You Say"
    Released: November 26, 2002
  2. "The Way You Do It"
    Released: May 20, 2003
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[1]
HipHopDX 4/5 stars[2]
RapReviews 10/10 stars[3]
Vibe 3.5/5 stars[4]

The Listening is the debut album of North Carolina trio Little Brother. It was released in early 2003 on ABB Records. The album became a surprise word-of-mouth sensation among underground rap fans, despite its lack of promotion, guest appearances, or extensive distribution.

Overview[edit]

As the main producer for the group, 9th Wonder's instrumentals consist of chopped and manipulated samples of old soul records, somewhat reminiscent of Pete Rock and DJ Premier. Complimenting the backdrops are MC's Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh with their tag-team wordplay and raps. On "Speed", they talk about the pressures of working a regular job while trying to survive in the rat race, while on "Make Me Hot", they make fun of people who hassle them for beats and studio time. They also do some uncanny impressions of old school era MC's on "So Fabulous".

The underlying theme of The Listening concerns the group's effort to engage their listeners on a deeper level, and their frustration at casual listeners who pay little attention to lyrics and content and simply want to hear a "hot song". The interludes are performed by the members of a fictional radio station called WJLR (Justus League Radio). On the last song called "The Listening", the group address the album's main theme head on, at one point abruptly stopping the song, exchanging dialogue concerning said song, and then restarting again, which in effect creates a song within a song.

Acclaim[edit]

Little Brother received approval from notable hip hop figures.

Famous drummer and producer Questlove of The Roots said:

I'm so friggin' jealous of Little Brother. Hip Hop the way I love it -- tight beats, on point lyrics? What!!! I made 4,887,234 people listen to 'Whatever You Say' at gunpoint, and I don't even own a gun![5]

Another legendary producer, Pete Rock said:

"The Listening" kinda brings me back to the days of when the 90's was poppin'. It's more realistic than what I'm hearing today and sounds like these guys put a lot of work into it. I love this album. Classic.[5]

Legendary DJ, DJ Jazzy Jeff said:

[The Listening] is the best hip-hop album I heard in a long time…dope beats…dope rhymes…..I wish this was all hip-hop…thank you…I needed dat.[5]

DJ Spinna, an underground hip hop producer said:

Little Brother is straight-up hot. Reminds me of the glory days of Tribe, De La and Native Tongues. It's fantastic to hear this kind of vibe out there. We need more albums like [The Listening].[5]"

Track listing[edit]

# Title Producer(s) Performer(s) Time Samples
1 "Morning" 9th Wonder Chaundon 0:45
2 "Groupie, Pt. 2" 9th Wonder Big Pooh 2:58
3 "For You" 9th Wonder Phonte,Big Pooh 3:03
  • "We're Living to Give (To Give Each Other)" by Melba Moore
4 "Speed" 9th Wonder Phonte,Big Pooh 3:57
5 "Whatever You Say" 9th Wonder Big Pooh, Phonte 5:27
6 "Make Me Hot" 9th Wonder Phonte,Big Pooh 1:36
7 "The Yo-Yo" 9th Wonder Big Pooh, Phonte 3:35
8 "Shorty on the Lookout" 9th Wonder Phonte,Big Pooh, Median 5:24
9 "Love Joint Revisited" 9th Wonder Phonte,Big Pooh 4:25
10 "So Fabulous" 9th Wonder Phonte,Big Pooh 4:43
11 "The Way You Do It" 9th Wonder Phonte,Big Pooh 4:32
12 "Roy Lee, Producer Extraordinaire" 9th Wonder Phonte, 9th Wonder 0:58
13 "The Get-Up" Eccentric, 9th Wonder Phonte,Big Pooh 3:17
14 "Away from Me" 9th Wonder Big Pooh, Phonte 5:23
15 "Nobody But You" 9th Wonder Big Pooh, Phonte, Keisha Shontelle 3:01
16 "Home" 9th Wonder 9th Wonder 2:49
17 "Nighttime Maneuvers" 9th Wonder Phonte 3:03
18 "The Listening" 9th Wonder Big Pooh, Phonte 6:07

References[edit]