Straight out of North Carolina, Little Brother makes us remember what Hip-Hop used to sound like: conscious lyrics crafted over jazzy beats and soulful sounds. Reminiscent of groups like Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, Little Brother continues to deliver carefully constructed albums that entertain, make you think and nod your head at the same time. Going against the pull and tug of mainstream, this group remains true to the art form, offering quality music with a positive message.
Clutch: How did you (Phonte), Big Pooh and former member, 9th Wonder come together to form the group Little Brother?
Little Brother: We all met in college in 1998 at North Carolina Central University.
Clutch: Tell me the meaning behind the name, “Little Brother.”
Little Brother: It’s basically our way of paying homage to all the dope hip-hop groups who came before us and inspired us. They were our bigger brothers in the game, and so now we’re their little brothers following in their footsteps.
Clutch: Who are your inspirations, musical and otherwise?
Little Brother: Big Daddy Kane, Public Enemy, Tribe Called Quest, Tavis Smiley, David Simon (creator of HBO’s The Wire)…anyone who is making good music and/or working to bring about positive change in the world…
Clutch: Folks are still talking about the genius behind the Minstrel Show. What inspired you to do that album?
Little Brother: It was inspired by the state that hip-hop, and to a larger extent Black music, is in. We’ve been reduced to a bunch of bottom feeders that are always forced to cater to the lowest common denominator.
Clutch: How do you continue to stay away from the lure of commercial rap music?
Little Brother: I don’t make a concerted effort to ‘stay away’ from commercial rap music. I just make the music that I feel, and wherever it lands is where it lands. If one of my songs became a top 10 hit and got played on commercial radio 50 times a day, I would be ecstatic. I just know the chances of that happening are slim to none, so I just keep doin’ me and don’t pay that shit no attention.
Clutch: Do you agree with Russell Simmons on the needed censorship of rap music today?
Little Brother: No. Russ is full of shit on that one. Censorship isn’t what’s needed. What’s needed is more diversity in commercial radio so kids can hear all different kinds of hip-hop. What irks me most about the whole Imus situation though, is that it took a racist white man gettin’ fired for Black folks to FINALLY speak the fuck up and realize that something is wrong…talk about irony…
Clutch: In January 2007, you made a group announcement that you would be parting ways with Atlantic Records, how has the transition been since leaving? And are you with a new label?
Little Brother: Leaving Atlantic was the best thing that could have happened to us. It was a marriage that just didn’t work. We’re still with our original indie label ABB Records.
Clutch: Shortly after, there was another announcement that 9th Wonder would be leaving the group, how did that come about?
Little Brother: We just grew apart personally and professionally and decided it was best if we parted ways. While things between us and 9th are not all good, there’s definitely no ‘beef.’ Niggas is grown…
Clutch: Little Brother also just released a mix tape with Mike Boogie, titled And Justus for All… what can we expect from this album?
Little Brother: Just more good music…
Clutch: How about a game of wordplay…(fill in the first thought that comes to mind.)
Hip Hop is… on its way out
Freedom is… lovely
My first rhyme… was wack as fuck, but aiight for an eight year old
Real is… death and taxes
Little Brother is… Soulful
Clutch: Lastly, what can we expect next from Little Brother in the future?
Little Brother: Just more good music. The new Little Brother album Getback will be out this fall. Then in 2008 we’re coming with Pooh’s solo album Dirty Pretty Things and the 2nd Foreign Exchange album entitled Leave It All Behind. Thanks to all our fans for their continued support. Peace!