Little Brother The Minstrel Show

Little Brother's widely anticipated sophomore effort finds the North Carolina trio improving and refining their already inimitable sound for their ever-growing audience instead of reconfiguring their sonic boundaries. Here producer 9th Wonder's lush vocal samples dominate and his much-maligned snare shows a little more variety for the naysayers. Rapper Big Pooh steps up his lyrical game a few notches, but it's undoubtedly lead MC Phonte who remains the group's lynchpin with his clever lyricism and witty asides. The satirical humour lampooning R. Kelly-styled R&B speaks to the larger issue of Little Brother's dissatisfaction with the stereotypes much of mainstream hip-hop propagates. Despite the concept of The Minstrel Show television program running through the album, much of the critique is present in the artwork and liner notes. On the record itself though, Big Pooh and Phonte largely stick to delivering their stirring everyman prose discussing missing father figures and critical introspection, making a compelling statement with what is absent from the record as well as what is on it. (Atlantic)