The critically acclaimed hip-hop group from Durham, North Carolina known as Little Brother is credited as one of the first buzzing rap acts in the world of online message boards in a pre-streaming internet era. At the helm of the new millennium resurgence of alternative rap in the early 2000s, the group helped pioneer (particularly for southern hip-hop) “grown man” or “every man” rap, relating to the working-class and everyday person. The original Little Brother trio– rappers Phonte and Big Pooh and DJ/producer 9th Wonder –formed as college students at North Carolina Central University in 1998. The group anchored a 12-member crew called the Justus League and went on to release four acclaimed studio albums, and several mixtapes in between before disbanding in April 2010. After almost 10 years, Little Brother surprises fans with the release of their fifth studio album, May The Lord Watch.
“The album title is taken from a closing prayer most commonly heard at the end of church services or funerals,” Phonte says. “‘May the Lord watch between you and me, while we’re absent, one from another.’ To me, it symbolizes how me and Pooh’s brotherhood has matured and evolved over the years. We’ve always made music together, but the creation of this record was the first time we took care of each other and had each other’s backs at every turn.”
Arriving nine years after the formal announcement of the group’s breakup, May The Lord Watch features production by Black Milk, Khrysis, Nottz, and Focus…; guest appearances by Questlove, and New York radio personality Peter Rosenberg; and vocals by Blakk Soul, Carlitta Durand, Darien Brockington, and more.
“People always ask me, ‘What is your favorite Little Brother album?'” Big Pooh says. “Truthfully I respond, ‘It’s like asking someone to pick their favorite child.’ That answer changes today. Not because I believe this is the best album we have ever done, which I do. This is going down as my favorite Little Brother album because of the journey it took to get us here and the way Phonte and I were able to repair and cement our bond as brothers throughout this process.”
Little Brother surprised fans in October of last year when the original trio of 9th Wonder, Big Pooh, and Phonte reunited on stage together for the first time in eleven years in their hometown at the 2018 Art of Cool Festival. Shortly after the electrifying event, Phonte and Big Pooh announced that Little Brother was officially re-activated as a duo, and they’d be touring and releasing new music together. The group’s first performance since Art of Cool 2018 will be at Raleigh’s Hopscotch Festival September 5-7, supported by Come Hear NC.