Little Brother: The Minstrel Show
ABB Records, Atlantic Records
Produced by 9th Wonder
Additional production by Piano Reeves, Nicolay, Khrysis
Recorded and Mixed by Khrysis, Gimel Keaton at Chopp Shopp Studios
Assistant: David Brown
Mastered by Chris Athens at Sterling Sound
5 out of 5 mics
The Minstrel Show has to be one of the top 10 hip-hop albums of all time. There hasn't been a better hip-hop album released since. The music and production by 9th Wonder is phenomenal, the style and lyrics of both Phonte and Big Pooh are unique and impressive, and it all combines for an album that is original, intense yet fun, and extremely refreshing. This is not an album that will be appreciated in it's own time ((hip hop albums rarely are anyway)). But in the years to come people will begin to understand the real quality of this album.
9th Wonder has been producing a lot of the best hip-hop beats since 2003 ((see The Listening, Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition, Chemistry)). He's got the talent to steer clear of the South's Master P - Lil Jon cookie cutter beats which dominate the hip-hop world. 9th is a musician akin to the Bomb Squad ((Public Enemy)), Jay Dee, and Prince Paul. He's obviously got a great ear for melody, and a love of soul and funk music. His music is not comprised of just simple loops that repeat throughout the entirety of a song. His productions are layered and often times contain arrangements not typical in hip-hop.
Phonte is the driving force of Little Brother. His vocal arrangement ability is outstanding ((see not only The Minstrel Show, but also The Foreign Exchange - Connected)). He's a talented singer, and an even better rapper and lyricist. His style is effortless and lyrics smart, funny, honest, even biting. Phonte and Big Pooh skewer all of the current hip-hop and R&B trends - the bling, the sex, the money, the overall shallowness of rap music since the mid-90's.
Every song on The Minstrel Show is excellent. There are no tracks to skip over here, and that's a rarity on any album in any genre. The mix is thick, and the sound is punchy, and crisp.