The Listening (Little Brother album)

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The Listening
Little Brother - The Listening.jpg
Studio album by Little Brother
Released February 25, 2003
Recorded 2001-2002
Genre Hip hop
Length 65:13
Label ABB Records
Producer 9th Wonder
Little Brother chronology
The Listening
The Minstrel Show
(2005)The Minstrel Show2005
Singles from The Listening
  1. "Speed"
    Released: August 2001
  2. "Whatever You Say"
    Released: November 26, 2002
  3. "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.


As the main producer for the group, 9th Wonder's instrumentals consist of chopped and manipulated samples of old soul records, 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 rap 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, "The Listening", the group addresses the album's main theme directly: they abruptly stop the song, exchange dialogue, then restart.


As word of "The Listening" spread amongst the Hip Hop community, Little Brother became quietly heralded as one of a handful of heirs to a lineage of multifaceted, intellectual-but-accessible rap groups like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, The Fugees or even OutKast. Later, in a 2007 interview, Big Pooh recalled meeting a then-virtually unknown Kanye West who was aware of the group's unique aesthetic.

Little Brother received approval from notable hip hop figures.

Famous drummer and producer Questlove of The Roots said:

Another legendary producer, Pete Rock said:

Legendary DJ, DJ Jazzy Jeff said:

DJ Spinna, an underground hip hop producer said:

Track listing[edit]

# Title Producer(s) Performer(s) Time
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
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 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" Eccentric Phonte 3:03
18 "The Listening" 9th Wonder Big Pooh, Phonte 6:07