Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Buy the Little Brother CD: "The Getback"

While it begins a little preachy, the Little Brother album Get Back on ABB Records is an album that should be in your library, an album that you have to own.  There are two reasons to own an album.  First, the majority of the songs on it are good.

Second, it is what I call an 8-track album, which is an album where you can just press play and relax, no further effort is required.  The 8-track albums are the best and I am proud to say that "Get Back" is an 8-track album.

Pooh and Phonte, the two members of the group Little Brother try to get expansive.  They talk about overall situations in the global order.  This is LB at it's worst.  They are not Lupe Fiasco in "Little Weapon" or Kanye West in "Diamonds", but rather are best at deeply personal subjects, some of which are not flattering.  What makes LB great is that they speak openly about the doubting voices that most of us have but never give voice to.  They talk about male insecurities, which are often an oxymoron in music.  They go back to this formula in their next song "Can't Win For Losing".

"Can't Win for Losing" 
 Here they talk about dissapointments of taking actions for the purpose of gaining the approval of others.  While Phonte's verse is clear and focused on the theme of the song and melds seemlessly with the hook (great job here) Pooh's verse is unfocused and simply seems to be space filler.  It's a good song that could have been great.  But good is still good.   Breakfast is good, not special, just good.  But no one would give it up.   This song is a keeper because of the beat produced by Illmind which is hypnotic.

"Breakin' My Heart"
9th Wonder produces a happy "Alice in Wonderland" type of beat.  It's a chilly beat.  Both verses by LB are very focused about rejuvenating relationships while Phonte steps it up by challenging a woman's sensibilities that she ought to allow her man to cheat on occasion.  Then to top off this mini-smash hit Lil' Wayne delivers his highly commercial mixed messages about relationships with his high Super Mario flow.  Just a hot track.

"Good Clothes"
Here LB over a Illmind brass heavy semi-flossy beat talk about improving their self-esteem through buying clothes.  The best part is both members lace their verses with store brands and experiences that we all can relate to talking about getting discounts at J. Riggins and Sears, while the Pooh breaks out the real when he talks about the embarrassment of being "walked over to husky" but still manages to get fresh.  What pushes this track over the top is crooning socially corrective jokes toward the end of the track, as the singer belts out "Take that coat off nigga." and to a big girl, "You better go to Lane Bryant."  Genius.

"After the Party"
Talks about the negative self-talk people often do in the context of trying to hookup after a party.  It's a decent song.  The sad part of the song is Pooh's verse is that it has a lack of focus because it vacillates between trying to be empathetic toward a woman's situation at a night club and then wanting her to keep you company.  Phonte however focuses his verse clearly on his frustration of the merry-go-round of the nightclub lifestyle, spending a lot of his funds on being noticed, nonetheless he continues his quest for temporary companionship.  Overall respectable song.  There is a lot of respect to LB for taking a decent beat (nothing super-special) and making a respectable song of it.  Nice.

PRODUCER TO WATCH:  DeNaun Porter.  This beat glides and swings at the same time, something that is somewhat rare.  LB does this beat justice.  There's a lot of chest thumping in this song, but the song is titled "Extrahard".  What else can you ask for from this song?  An unnecessary but super-nice addition is the singing at 2:40.  It's just a nice touch but it breaks up what could be too much, however the producer and LB make a great musical decision here.  A solid 7.5 to 8.  It's just a solid song.

"Step It Up"
This song made me want to buy this album.  It talks about the maturing of relationships between men and woman as we get older.  How Applebee's translates into PF Changs and Boon's Farm turns into Stoli and orange juice.  I heard it on Pandora.  It's great.  Once again Phonte stands out.  His verse summerizes the song.  The beat flows like time and is a small work with itself, produced by Hi-Tek.  

"Two Step Blues"
Produced by Nottz, the beat kicks in the door immediately.  It's something that if you played it for a party crowd, they'd be dancing hard and ask later, "Who is this?"  The verses by LB are both just correct.  And in a change of roles, Pooh is the rapper who just represents on this song with his precision rhyming.  Then to top off this muscular track they add some horns, just to show off at the end.  Yeah Nottz.  Yeah LB.  Just yeah.

"That Ain't Love"
An 80-ish track by Illmind is decent.  It seems to be a necessary cooler after "Two Step Blues" but the track doesn't stand very strong on it's own.  In the overall context of the album this song is simply a disappointment.  It disrespects the rest of the outstanding album.   The previous seven tracks are outstanding.  Then comes along mediocre.  Enough said.

It starts out just okay but this song catches you by the end.  Producer Rashid Hadee has a decent debut on this track.  Pooh has a decent verse about the conflict between he and his mother about his career of being a musician but leaves a hanging question, "Why doesn't he delve deeper into this relationship in this verse? Why doesn't he focus here?" Phonte throws this song a life saver when he gets real about the conflict between personal success and the failure of childhood friends and the tension that results on both sides of the relationship.   Ironically, toward the beginning of the song it sounds weak but the song itself is a crescendo and ends up being pretty good by the end thanks to the Pooh-Phonte buildup and a nice melodic lyric sung at the end.  The beat actually ends up hypnotizing you by the end.  Good song.  It could become a personal staple over the long haul, the type of song you listen to once in a while but for ten or twenty years.

"When Everything is New"
This song begins with a long prelude.  It edges on annoying but it's not that bad.  It ends up fitting into the song, but it could turn off people enough not to hear the beautiful synthesized sounds mixed with the violins.  That would be a shame.  Pooh clearly has a point of view on this song and finishes the album very strong.  It's heartfelt, direct, and wise.  Phonte just flows through.  He laces the verse with relaxed words such as "Time passes like Bret Farve," but has a message.  Zo! the producer of this track deserves credit.  He laces this track lovely.  It's a work within itself.  Nice. 

this is a strong album.  There are eleven tracks on this album.  One is weak.  Three are okay.  Seven are STRONG.  The best part is the weak one is in the very beginning of the album.  That means that the consecutive strong tracks are condensed, and on top of that the order of the tracks tells a story, AND the strong songs are often consecutive, being through tracks 2-4 and 6-8, then 11.  And I wouldn't skip the okay tracks because I had to wrestle with some of the okay categorizations.  Besides those songs work into the flow of the album.  BOTTOM LINE:  BUY THIS ALBUM.

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