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Little Brother 

Getback (ABB)

Wednesday, Nov 7 2007

"I came back from New York, nigga lost his deal/Felt sick to the stomach, almost lost his meal," raps Phonte on Getback's first track, "Sirens." He's referring to his duo Little Brother's exit from Atlantic after sales from its major label debut, The Minstrel Show, failed to meet expectations. Getback was instead released on indie label ABB — which also put out the group's heralded 2003 debut The Listening — and is surely a much stronger record for it. It's largely a personal reflection on the past year's events, which also includes the duo's parting ways with producer 9th Wonder. Musically, the album could have used more of 9th's seamless, soul-influenced beats; he produces only one song here, "Breakin My Heart," which, like every other recent track in the universe, also features Lil Wayne. But while predictable subjects like clothes and infidelity pop up, songs like "Can't Win for Losing" — in which Big Pooh raps, "Everybody changed overnight when the numbers came back light" — express a vulnerability rarely seen in hip-hop. We've heard a thousand times about the excitement that comes with getting signed to a major deal. Finally, we get the other side of the story.

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Ben Westhoff


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