“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard…”
It’s no secret that Little Brother would be closing up shop this year. The critically acclaimed duo won’t stop making music, but Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte feel they have exhausted their musical spectrums within the confines of the group, and are now ready to explore new avenues of creative expression. So with that in mind, Friday night’s (September 3) Little Brother concert took on new meaning, as it was the final appearance of the click from North Carolina under the name that made them famous.
One of the realities for Hip-Hop fans is that these shows almost never start “on time.” Even with doors opening around 8pm, the show didn’t kick off until after 10pm. The openers featured a good mix of local ATL talent in 4IZE, Dillon, Binkis Recs and Senor Kaos, who also split his time as host to substitute for a sick Fort Knox. For about a good hour and a half the crowd was attentive and gave good energy to the strong boom bap centered performances. But once the time started to push towards midnight, the crowd became understandably restless. This was unfortunate for veterans Binkis Recs, who had to contend with a listless audience by the time they hit their stage for the last opening set.
The delay was mostly due to LB having to contend with the taxing road trip from North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham area to Atlanta. On a good day, the trip can be about 7 hours if there’s no traffic. But that’s rarely the case. Many times commuters get locked in traffic around Charlotte, and despite leaving at 2pm the group found themselves hampered by traffic and didn’t make it to the venue until around 11pm.
But being stuck in a van for hours on end didn’t sap their energy. In fact, it had the opposite effect of making LB crash the stage with unleashed vigor and potency. They kicked off with “The Listening” and “For You” off their throwback debut The Listening. Because these songs were the offerings that introduced nearly everyone to Little Brother, they would consistently get the biggest crowd responses the entire night.
That didn’t mean you wouldn’t hear one of your favorites from their later albums. Little Brother did an exceptional job of giving a strong overview of their creative output over the last seven years. One second you could be vibing to “Tigallo for Dolo” off this year’s Leftback, or The Minstrel Show’s “Watch Me.” And the next minute you’ll be rocking to “Dreams” off 2007’s Getback. What also worked well was LB’s technique of mixing portions of their songs with other well-known Hip-Hop beats like B.IG.’s “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” This insured everyone remained engaged, as your expectations were heightened regarding how the duo would improvise their next selections.
“ATL from the bottom of my heart we love all of you,” Phonte said before signing his hat to give to the crowd and shaking every fan hand possible. “We did this venue in 2003 and were in the little room downstairs. Tonight we’re here and sold this motherfucker out! I thank each and every one of you for rocking with us all these years.”
When many of us begin our adult lives, we have ambitions to conquer the world. As the years mount along with life’s curve balls, some of us lose that vision but continue to try and live our lives honorably. In the end, we all hope our fleeting existence has made the world better on some level. Little Brother’s time as a collective had its controversy, as can be physically seen today by the absence of one its founding members. But they all can hold their heads high and know that Hip-Hop music was significantly strengthened by their presence . There would have been a significant void in the 2000s without them, and they’ve shown how far you can go in Hip-Hop culture with a genuine love of this music coupled with belief and dedication to your art.
Salutations to Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh. You’ve done yourselves proud and gave ATL an unforgettable sendoff.