Little Brother, The Chitlin Circuit 1.5

Hua Hsu

By Hua Hsu

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Odds and ends from the restless, righteous heroes of hip-hop.

Despite their drowsy, hyper-classicist sound, North Carolina's Little Brother are one of the more divisive groups out there. Those who tire of independent hip-hop's desire to "take things back" savage Phonte, Big Pooh and producer 9th Wonder as post-Native Tongue retrogrades, while those dissatisfied with mainstream hip-hop's lazy, laissez-faire attitudes champion the trio as a welcome alternative. The truth lies somewhere in between, as this stopgap compilation of exclusives, remixes and B-sides suggests. The watery, shapeless harmonies of "On the Way" and the stuttering fanfares of "Nobody Like Me" are 9th Wonder classics — proof that Jay-Z wasn't asleep at the wheel when he tapped 9th for some Roc-A-Fella work. At the same time, Pooh and Phonte's rhymes have a down-to-Earth, quotidian charm, especially on tracks like "Welcome to Durham" (featuring Big Daddy Kane) and Nicolay's remix of "The Yo-Yo."