And Justus For All

Artist: Little Brother/Mick BoogieTitle: And Justus For AllRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios

When you take into heavy consideration the great make up of Little Brother, you notice that the math just doesn't quite add up. As the heirs to the Native Tongue dynasty, the North Carolina troop has dropped plenty of dope material throughout the years. Unfortunately their most recent opus The Minstrel Show (Atlantic) was met with much critical acclaim but mediocre sales. From a bird's eye view the group seems to have recently come to a standstill creatively. Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte look to expand their sound with other beat smiths as 9th Wonder goes elsewhere to stick to his usual script. The now trio turned duo team up with DJ Mick Boogie on the And Justus For All mixtape to show that the only thing that is rusty is their label.

Pooh makes a grand entrance on the intro "Poobie's Song" with his own version of Jay-Z's angelic "Hova's Song." His solid delivery doesn't get him overshadowed by the classic track. LB connect with League Crew favorite Joe Scudda on "Fan Mail." DJ Babu of Dilated fame lays some funky bass licks over gritty drums as all three MC's do their thing with no nonsense bars. On "Phonte's Last Day," P.H. switches up the subject matter with a candid look at his life working at a department store before the booth. His take on reverse racism shines through with witty bars like "Around one all the Mexicans come in your store/copping all the sh*t that rocked five summers ago/they got to be the realest ni***s alive/buy four hundred worth of Nautica and pay for it in fives."

With the freedom of a mixtape platform, the boys invite a few peeps outside of the usual suspects. First heard on his The Format album, AZ blends in perfectly on the streets inspired "Rise And Fall." Their separate insights into the pitfalls of the street game compliment somber production. Midi Mafia of "21 Questions" fame provide the best track of the tape on the sweeping "Grown Man." An arrangement of soft strings and flutes stand apart easily from sped up soul and all the jacked beats. Remixes to "Life Of The Party" featuring Skillz and "Back At It" with Cormega also are a good look.

Some die hard LB fans might be disappointed with the lack of participation from 9th, but with no blatant snoozers, And Justus For All is still good money. This is more proof to certify their underground inventive, overground effective stripes.