RELEASED: AUGUST 20, 2019, Imagine Nation Music / For Members Only / EMPIRE, Review written by Mark Mcauley, Foreword & Final thoughts by Michael Grant for Wu-Worldwide DJ Coalition
SEPTEMBER 29, 2018: Beautiful Morning
It was the Art of Cool festival in Durham North Carolina. 9th Wonder was scheduled to perform. But little did the fans know that the bossman of Jamla Records was bringing two familiar faces with him. The fans in the vicinity lost their minds as they bear witnessed Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh with 9th on stage together… this could only mean two things: a reconciliation has happened and two, a possible new album. A dream come true right? Well almost.
MAY 21, 2019: N!&&@$ Ain’t Listening…
He continued: “After conversations with 9th Wonder following our Art of Cool reunion show in Durham last year, the three of us mutually agreed it was best for LB to continue as a duo, as Pooh and I have officially been Little Brother since 2007.”
Hip Hop is Knowledge. The Teacha himself taught us that, So it is a personal pet peeve of mine that if heads don’t do the knowledge before hand, they wonder why 9th (see what I did there) is not on this new project. They start bad mouthing the genius producer on social media. Let us not forget that this man gave us Smif N Wessun – The All, Jamla is the Squad, the new Eve album from Rapsody on the way (at time of this review) and the recently released new Murs album. Very upsetting and ignorant to hear.
AUGUST 19, 2019…Nighttime Maneuvers
We knew they were dropping a new album, we just didn’t know when… meanwhile we were distracted by Top 50 lists, Tommy Boy taking liberties with De La Soul and Jay-Z and his polarizing partnership with the NFL. It was all a distraction. ALL OF IT, perfect timing and opportunity for Little Brother to unleash their new LP: May the Lord Watch… perhaps a fitting title, especially to Christians who believe that the Lord is watching all of our movements while he prepared his second coming. Over to you Mark Mcauley…
Can’t Let H.E.R. (How Could I Let You Get Away?)
1. The Feel 9/10 , I really like the way they started off this album, with the loose piano & funky instrumentation, they get nostalgic but rap about starting back from where they left off, with some smart lyricism on the hook “Get back to the feel, relax and chill, I got a license to Ill again..”
2. Everything 7.5/10, The song starts off with an abrupt sample courtesy of M.O.P, Phonte raps about life’s highs & lows, his life commitments and those who passed away in life, I really like this one too but the female on the hook doesn’t add much to the song.
3. Right On Time 10/10 , this song is amazing and funky as hell, the production sounds straight out of the 2000’s and got a Slum Village feel to it, the keys & drums are really nice, the lyrics are strong too on this one & the hook blends well this time, unlike on the previous song for me.
4. Black Magic (Make It Better) 9/10, The song is really uplifting, again the production is really nice on the ear and the content is really feel good, I’m not in love with the hook from the female on this one either but the lyricism and direction of the song makes up for it for me, Common would have been right at home on this one.
5. Goodmorning Sunshine 8/10, the drums are really good on this one too, they spit some heartfelt lyrics about settling down with that special someone, instead of living life reckless, the hook is pure 90’s, I respect the honesty of the record.
6. What I Came For 8/10, Really nice song too, they rap about why they came into the rap game and how they still have aspirations while still here making music, nice motivational record for those who need it!
7. Sittin Alone 10/10 , This is my favorite record so far on the album, they rap over a sample of Bobby Caldwell “Open Your Eyes” , its a nice self-reflective deep song, really like the lines from Phonte about feeling too old for the club & being at home is better than hanging around the 25 and less age brackets.
8. Picture This 8.5/10, the hook is pure 90’s, I really enjoy the lyrics about the old school Hip-Hop , with EPMD “You’re A Customer” being referenced nicely in the first verse, another really nice record,
9. All in a Day 10/10, this song is really focused, from the production to the lyrics, to the rapping, to the hook, it’s got everything I’m looking for in good Hip-Hop song, definitely one of the stronger records on this album to me, they sound resilient when lashing out at these new rappers and doing music on their terms and own freedom, great song.
10. Work Through Me. 9/10, Nice way to close out the album, with another motivational record, they come across passionately about how long they have been in the game and want the respect, the hook gets a little spiritual with the “Work Through Me Lord”, as they speak on wanting that push to keep persevering with life and this music.
My opinion as a whole : This is a smooth album, With Little Brother back with their usual thoughtful lyrics, the album is a nice blend of that 2000’s Underground Hip-Hop and 90’s esque R&B displayed on the hooks, they did not stray too far from their path or overstay their welcome on their return, there are no dud’s on the album to me, just good solid Hip-Hop, that will hopefully retain that love and replay value, as time goes on.
I SEE NOW: Final Thoughts
This is a beautiful welcome back for the once trio turned duo, and for the right reasons. Not only have Little Brother shown that they can be successful without their super producer, but in the process they have his blessing. They kept a great thing going too, with The Listening based on a ‘radio station’, The Minstrel Show being just that, and now this album taking the role of a streaming network a la Netflix, great skits throughout with some familiar and lovable characters like Percy Miracles and Roy Lee producer extraordinaire, probably the only part of the album where 9th Wonder is listening somewhere thinking ‘oh naaaaw…’! Little Brother has shown that sometimes, surprising attacking us like Pearl Harbor is the way forward…as opposed to announcing a major project, keeping us with anticipation for months, maybe even years, until either we are disappointed with the end result or worse – the project doesn’t see daylight. Take a bow fellas. I shall subscribe to the ‘UBN Network’ straight away!