The Minstrel Show

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The Minstrel Show
Studio album by Little Brother
Released September 13, 2005
Recorded 2005
Genre Hip hop
Length 53:31
Label Atlantic (compact disc)
ABB Records (vinyl)
Producer 9th Wonder, Nicolay, Khrysis, Piano Reeves
Little Brother chronology
The Listening
(2003)
The Minstrel Show
(2005)
The Commercial Free EP
(2006)
Singles from The Minstrel Show
  1. "Lovin' It"
    Released: August 16, 2005
  2. "Slow It Down"
    Released: 2006

The Minstrel Show is the second studio album by hip hop trio, Little Brother. It followed the critical success of their 2003 debut, The Listening. The album was highly anticipated and touted as a probable breakthrough for the group, even before its release. The title is a reference to the minstrel shows that were popular in America during the 19th century (see Minstrel show).

Themes[edit]

The album has a running concept based on a fictional television network called "UBN" (U Black Niggas Network), which is a satire of stereotypical programs and advertisements. For example, on "Cheatin", Phonte (performing under his alter-ego "Percy Miracles"), spoofs the over-dramatic R&B sagas performed by singers such as R. Kelly and Ronald Isley. Many of the skits contain tongue-in-cheek references to black pop-culture in America.

Controversy[edit]

For many reasons, the furor surrounding The Minstrel Show overshadowed the music itself. On August 16, 2005, hip hop magazine The Source's Editor-in-Chief, Joshua "Fahiym" Ratcliffe, announced his retirement due to conflicting opinions on the rating The Minstrel Show was to receive in the next issue of the publication. According to Ratcliffe, his original rating of 4.5 (out of 5) was reduced to 4 by the magazine's Chief Brand Executive, Raymond "Benzino" Scott and CEO Dave Mays because Ratcliffe gave then-upcoming artist Young Jeezy a rating of 4.[1] After they refused to change the rating back to 4.5 he decided to step down from his editorial position. For his part, Benzino admitted at the time of questioning, that he had yet to listen to the album for himself and had no problem with Ratcliffe's original rating.[2]

While this may have built up anticipation for the album, another more serious obstacle reared its head when the entertainment network BET (Black Entertainment Television) refused to play the group's video for the single, "Lovin' It", allegedly because they deemed it "too intelligent".[1][2] Michael Lewellen, a publicist and program director for BET, responded, "It's not true, not in that context. BET reserves the right to show or not to show music videos of any type based on the network's own standards and decision-making processes."[3] In a portion of the video, the group lightly pokes fun at the different stylistic aspects of hip hop sub-genres such as "gangsta", "backpack", "earthy" and "icy". The rest of it sees them performing to a zealous crowd.[1]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
About.com 4.5/5 stars link
Allmusic 4/5 stars link
HipHopDX.com 4.5/5 stars link
Okayplayer (83/100) link
RapReviews.com (10/10) link
Vibe 4/5 stars link
Scratch 10/10 stars[citation needed]
The Source 4.5/5 stars[citation needed]
XXL Magazine 4/5 stars[citation needed]

In contrast to the reaction of BET, Little Brother received praises from many powerful forces within the hip hop world, such as XXL magazine, who gave the album an "XL" rating and most notably, Scratch Magazine, who gave it a perfect 10 out of 10 rating. Despite all the controversy, The Minstrel Show debuted at a #56 position on the Billboard charts selling 18,000 copies in its first week out (a much lower number than expected by both fans and critics). A second official single and any further promotion of the album was abandoned by Atlantic Records, and although the group soon began recording their follow-up album, Getback, their relationship with the label drew to a close before its release.

Track listing[edit]

# Title Producer(s) Performer(s) Time Samples
1 "Welcome to the Minstrel Show" 9th Wonder YahZarah
Chris Hardwick
1:17
2 "Beautiful Morning" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
2:20
3 "The Becoming" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
2:05
4 "Not Enough" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
Darien Brockington
4:30
5 "Cheatin'" Piano Reeves Percy Miracles
Mr. Biggs Ron Isley
3:43
6 "Hiding Place" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
Elzhi
4:00
7 "Slow It Down" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
Darien Brockington
4:19
8 "Say It Again" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
3:47
  • "Do Something Special (For Your Lady)" by The Five Special
9 "5th & Fashion (Skit)" Nicolay *Interlude* 1:19
10 "Lovin' It" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
Joe Scudda
3:51
  • "One Night Affair" by The Stylistics
11 "Diary of a Mad Black Daddy (Skit)" 9th Wonder *Interlude* 0:40
12 "All for You" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
4:39
13 "Watch Me" Khrysis Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
DJ Jazzy Jeff (DJ scratches)
4:19
14 "Sincerely Yours" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh 3:15
15 "Still Lives Through" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
3:25
16 "Minstrel Show Closing Theme" 9th Wonder YahZarah
Chris Hardwick
1:28
  • "No Stronger Love" by The Floaters
17 "We Got Now" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Phonte
Chaundon
4:34
  • "Caboclo" by Arthur Verocai

Album Samples Songwriting Credits[edit]

Watch Me

Slow It Down

  • "Slow Dance" as performed by David Ruffin; written by C. Curtis Gadson, Rosslyn Sanders and Rollin Sanders

The Becoming

Sincerely Yours

  • "Whatever Goes Around" as performed by Jerry Butler; written by T. Callier and L. Wade

Lovin' It

  • "One Night Affair" as performed by The Stylistics; written by R. Joyce, V. Pike and T. Randazzo

Hold On (Tellin' Me) (B-Side of "Lovin' It" single)

  • "Sitting On The Edge Of My Mind" as performed by Jermaine Jackson; written by Garfield, Fletcher, O'Hara and O'Hara

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Chery, Carl (8 September 2005). "Little Brother's "Too Intelligent" Says BET, Network Responds To Allegation". SOHH.com. Retrieved 14 July 2006. 
  2. ^ Walker, Verbal (7 September 2005). "Little Brother's "Too Intelligent" for BET". HipHopDX.com. Retrieved 14 September 2005. 
  3. ^ http://slumz.boxden.com/f5/sep-8-little-brothers-too-intelligent-says-bet-network-responds-allegation-448793/