On Tuesday (August 8), the duo — comprising Phonte Coleman and Big Pooh — announced that their year-long party to commemorate The Listening will culminate in a show set in their hometown on October 7. “Made In Durham: A Little Brother Block Party” will also feature Zo! & Tall Black Guy, Hourglass, Wally Sparks and Sam Jay.
The pair announced their plans through a parody of professional wrestler Booker T’s viral promo from his WCW days in the ’90s in which he accidently said the n-word during a live segment.
“The only clique you need to know about is Little Brother and Sister Cicely,” Phonte said in the clip. “You see, because what you’re dealing with right here is the brotherhood and it’s non-stop from this point on, and at UBN, we take what we want. And after we take the stage at the Little Brother Block Party, we want the gold, sucka. Bull City, we coming for you—”
Just as he’s about to say the forbidden word, the clip cuts off and transitions to unveiling the event’s lineup. Check it out below:
When Little Brother’s debut album, The Listening, was released on February 25, 2003, the 20-something college students were unknowingly swimming against the Hip Hop tide.
The trio of rappers Phonte Coleman, Big Pooh and 9th Wonder crafted a soulful homage to their foundational heroes like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Slum Village at a time when standard bearers of the underground like Common and The Roots were pivoting into more experimental territory sonically and the South as a region was dominating with splashy, high-BPM, escapist fair designed for radio and club consumption.
Not to mention a guy named 50 Cent was casting a long shadow over the entire industry with his Lazarean mythology and bullet-riddled boasts backed by two of the biggest names in music: Dr. Dre and Eminem.
“I didn’t know what the hell was going on, man,” Big Pooh said during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “We were having fun. It was some work element to it, but it was fun. I really had no expectation for anything involving making that album, other than we think it’s dope. We think what we’re doing is dope. But just that time, man, you can never get that time back.
“There were no expectations. We were just trying to do what we thought was right, and having fun doing it, and just that it was so innocent. I’ll use that word. It was innocent. You can never get that moment back, no matter how much you try. We know too much now. We’ve been in The Matrix. We were all naive, to a certain point, and just going in there trying to make the best [music].”
“We actually thought the music business was a meritocracy,” Phonte adds. “[But] it’s so much politics and shit that ain’t got nothin’ to do with music.”
The Listening was Little Brother’s first and last album on ABB Records, jumping to Atlantic for their follow-up, The Minstrel Show. The group have gone through multiple changes, both business-wise and personally, in the decades that followed, but their core has remained intact through it all.