DJ Drama & Little Brother Gangsta Grillz: Separate But Equal

It’s no secret to casual observers that Southern hip-hop has been enjoying a dominance in commercial hip-hop in recent years. However while North Carolina’s Little Brother share a geographical affiliation neither their sound or approach can be aligned with crunk, screw or any of the other popular movements originating south of the Mason-Dixon line. DJ Drama, the DJ they’ve hooked up with this for this tape does though, yet the group not only retain their critically acclaimed style the tangibly invigorated group have added a few favourable wrinkles to the formula too. A couple of tracks from last year’s major-label debut The Minstrel Show are featured and some of the album’s themes of battling stereotypes frequently appear on this mix-tape in lead MC Phonte’s taut self-deprecating and frequently humorous lyricism. Yet for the most part, the group revel in being free from a concept album approach. Sidekick MC Big Pooh steps up his game significantly, putting in his best lyrical performances to date on tracks like "Macaroni” and "On My G.” The presence of the likes of producers Krhysis, Illmind and others helps to balance 9th Wonder’s contributions and the star power of Mos Def and Bun B. definitely don’t hurt on a stellar mix-tape that warrants immediate inclusion on the Southern hip-hop canon. (Denko Secca)