Little Brother: Not Shuckin' & Jivin' Part Two One of the big issues surrounding The Minstrel Show has been magazine’s album ratings. What are your opinions on the reviews?

9th Wonder: Regardless of what people feel, those magazine ratings definitely help record sales. Credible or not, they help.

Big Pooh: When you go into a bookstore, you may not even buy the magazine. You pick it up, and what’s the first thing you do? You flip to the back, and you find out who got what rating. No matter how you feel about ratings, that’s the first thing you do when you see a new magazine issue has dropped.

9th Wonder: It’s talk for weeks. If you get a 2.5 or a 2, they’ll be talking about you for a long time! Sounds like you’ve seen the 2.5 rating that Rolling Stone gave The Minstrel Show. Why do you think they reviewed the album so low?

9th Wonder: They just don’t get it!

Phonte: To me, they don’t get it, and I don’t even think they listened to the album. The review read like they didn’t even hear the album, just as their review for The Listening read. So, that magazine just doesn’t seem to get Hip-Hop. In the magazines that specialize in Hip-Hop, the album has received nothing but critical acclaim. The word “classic” has even been used, but how do you feel about albums being hailed as “classics” before being given time to age? It seems like 2005 has had a series of “classic” albums.

9th Wonder: I think it’s because the music today is so bad, that people really want something that they can latch on to and call a “classic” real quick.

Phonte: This generation never had an Illmatic. So, they’re really looking hard for one.

9th Wonder: A lot of the kids who are calling albums “classics” are the ones on the Internet. That’s because a lot of these kids are born in 1988, 1987. They weren’t around to experience the day that Illmatic came out. They are really trying to re-live that, badly, but they’ll never be able to have that feeling. They were like four years old when that came out.

Big Pooh: You can’t really call something a classic until after awhile. After you see if it stands the test of time. If you can listen to it the same way years later that you did when you first bought it, then that’s a classic. Like me personally, I give albums awhile, and then I’ll go back and see if I can still bump it the same. I can do that with Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt. That’s a damn classic.

9th Wonder: A lot of albums that people call “instant classics” just don’t age well. It happens all of the time. One album that came out to “instant classic” talk was Common’s Be, but a lot of people admitted to hailing it prematurely as time has gone on.

9th Wonder: People are just happy to hear Common rapping again, without all of the extra stuff. I don’t think the “classic” talk for his album has anything to do with the actual music. No offense to any of these artists, but Common, The Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli…for these new Hip-Hoppers on the net, those are their heroes. They don’t want to see them go down. They want something to believe in, whether their new music is good or not. On the same page, some of them have a hard time believing that three dudes who used to be on these Internet sites chatting with them are on a major label now. For some of them, it’s a hard pill to swallow. In what ways do these people address you?

9th Wonder: Everybody got opinions, and some people know how to express their opinions in the proper way. But if you say, “I don’t like Little Brother ‘cause they’re wack,” or if you say, “I don’t like their music because of the following reasons,” don’t do no nitpicking, man! You can tell when somebody is being an a**hole. Somebody had made a post the other day, a friend of mine, saying, “Y’all just mad because it isn’t you. You didn’t have the idea that they had, and you’re just mad about it.” After that, nobody replied. Usually, somebody will copy and paste the quote, and then comment negatively. The following posts were like, “Real talk,” and “True.”

Phonte: In this culture now, there are very few “just fans” left. The age of the Internet has changed that. I remember going to see A Tribe Called Quest in 1996, when Beats, Rhymes, & Life came out. Tribe, Outkast, Busta Rhymes, and The Fugees. Even then, I knew I wanted to MC, but I was still just a fan of the music. I wasn’t going to the concert and saying, “Ahh, Tip f**ked up that verse.” “Lauryn was off for that note.” I just went to enjoy the show, and when I got home, I couldn’t log on to a website and be like, “That show sucked!” I couldn’t type, [and say,] “Lauryn Hill, you f**king suck! I hate your guts, and that was the worst show I’ve ever seen. P.S. Check my beats at That Producer So-N-So on” [laughs] So do you think the Internet is indirectly hurting Hip-Hop?

9th Wonder: Really, man, the Internet is a place where everyone can be somebody. Outside of the computer, they’re nobody, so the net is their chance to stand up on that podium and be somebody.

Phonte: It’s definitely not a bad thing, because it helps a lot of music to be heard. But I think, with the Internet now, that fans have lost that knee-jerk reaction to the music, like simply saying, “That’s hot!” People now log on to message boards and write thesis statements about the music. If you like it, you like it. If not, cool. Let it be what it is. It’s just Hip-Hop.