The Listening (Little Brother album)

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The Listening
Little Brother - The Listening.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 25, 2003
GenreHip hop
LabelABB Records
Producer9th Wonder
Little Brother chronology
The Listening
The Minstrel Show
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

The Listening is the debut album of North Carolina trio Little Brother. It was released in early 2003 on ABB Records.


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.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3.5/5 stars[1]
HipHopDX4/5 stars[2]
RapReviews10/10 stars[3]
Vibe3.5/5 stars[4]

AllMusic generally praised the album, concluding that it "a finely crafted musical document, composed by artists who want nothing more than to provide even just a glimpse of hip-hop purity within an ever-expanding maze of cultural deterioration."[1] HipHopDX praised the album's consistent quality, in that the music worked best in the album format, and the message was lessened when the listener skipped tracks.[2]

Track listing[edit]

1."Morning" (Chaundon)9th Wonder0:45
2."Groupie, Pt. 2" (Big Pooh)9th Wonder2:58
3."For You" (Phonte, Big Pooh)9th Wonder3:03
4."Speed" (Phonte, Big Pooh)9th Wonder3:57
5."Whatever You Say" (Big Pooh, Phonte)9th Wonder5:27
6."Make Me Hot" (Phonte, Big Pooh)9th Wonder1:36
7."The Yo-Yo" (Big Pooh, Phonte)9th Wonder3:35
8."Shorty on the Lookout" (Phonte, Big Pooh, Median)9th Wonder5:24
9."Love Joint Revisited" (Phonte, Big Pooh)9th Wonder4:25
10."So Fabulous" (Phonte, Big Pooh)9th Wonder4:43
11."The Way You Do It" (Phonte, Big Pooh)9th Wonder4:32
12."Roy Lee, Producer Extraordinaire" (Phonte, 9th Wonder)9th Wonder0:58
13."The Get-Up" (Phonte, Big Pooh)Eccentric3:17
14."Away from Me" (Big Pooh, Phonte)9th Wonder5:23
15."Nobody but You" (Big Pooh, Phonte, Keisha Shontelle)9th Wonder3:01
16."Home" (9th Wonder)9th Wonder2:49
17."Nighttime Maneuvers" (Phonte)9th Wonder3:03
18."The Listening" (Big Pooh, Phonte)9th Wonder6:07