REVIEW BY: Ben Ehrenreich
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/14/2007
Little Brother’s sophomore album The Minstrel Show defied all odds and made them one of the few to record back-to-back classics; they were only two deep. Get Back was surrounded by much controversy, considering it was the first album without a major contribution for used-to-be in-house producer 9th Wonder.
Surprisingly, Get Back is actually more controversial than the sophomore release, because instead of criticizing commercial hip-hop artists through metaphor and wordplay, Little Brothers just comes out and says it. The only problem is, they seem to contradict themselves on “Breakin’ My Heart,” because for some odd reason they felt the need to collaborate with “Mr. Minstrel Show” himself, Lil’ Wayne. “Breakin’ My Heart” is actually a great song over the only 9th Wonder beat on the album, but the song’s strong relationship message is entirely because of Phonte and Big Pooh. Lil’ Wayne offers absolutely nothing and is completely outclassed.
Get Back starts out strong with “Sirens”, an Illmind production, who actually fills in for 9th very nicely with four out of the 11 tracks on the album. “Can’t Win For Losing” is another great Illmind track that Phonte absolutely rips with an introspective grocery list of people who have let him down. The next three tracks are possibly the best three on the album: the aforementioned “Breakin’ My Heart”, the rags-to-riches “Good Clothes” and the complex “After The Party.”
Like “After The Party,” “Good Clothes” is about much more than it appears. Yes, it’s filled with funny anecdotes reminiscent of Kanye’s “Spaceship,” but it also serves as a metaphor for where the group is in the industry. They were not hand-picked by a high-profiled CEO or allotted a huge fund to make their album, yet they still did what they had to do to look and sound fly. Phonte even alludes to this through the skit that precedes it, but I won’t divulge that message here.
“After The Party” is the best song on this album. The intro is from the hilarious Emmitt Smith roast, in which Jamie Foxx ridicules former football player Doug Williams. Not only do Phonte and Big Pooh both shine, but once again they create a song that has tremendous depth and different messages. Whether you take “party” as an actual social event or as a hip-hop career in general, this song will be rewarding. This gem is followed by an uproarious “Extrahard,” courtesy of Mr. Porter, that provides a give-and-go session that deals with their new found success.
“Step It Up” is another mature song about relationships, a theme that has had ample space on this record and is obviously a topic troubling the duo. This is followed by the only weak point on the album, “Two Step Blues.” While Nottz provides decent production, Phonte and Pooh don’t shine as well when referring to the club scene, although it keeps up with the mature theme on this album.
“Dreams” is another great song where Phonte actually acknowledges they were going for a different direction on Get Back. The closer “When Everything Is New” finishes the disc off nicely and continues the reflections on fame that have been present throughout this album.
Get Back is a very mature effort that silenced critics (including myself) who said they could not have similar success without their 9th Wonder. Actually, the production on this album is very good, bordering on excellent. It is also clear that The Minstrel Show had brought them newfound money and success. Get Back is very much like Life After Death was for The Notorious B.I.G., whereas both artists spent the bulk of the album reflecting on their unexpected success. Nonetheless, Phonte and Big Pooh have put together an album that they can be more than proud of, and once again Phonte proves to be one of the best MCs alive. Do I really need to say buy the album?