Who them boys that can make a record feel “so good?” Well, it’s no other than the two faces to represent down south Hip-Hop since “Mr. North Carolina” Petey Pablo. Though the reclaimed duo has called it quits, AllHipHop had the chance to chop it up with them before the curtain is drawn for closure.
Its not certain if Phonte and Pooh know how much of an impact they had on North Carolina and Hip-Hop in general. Witnessing the then-trio score ultimate praise for the challenging subject manner project The Minstrel Show meant a lot to Hip-Hop lovers around the globe and you can believe they were “lovin it.” Since pushing forward even after the Atlantic Records deal failed, the boom bap drum sounds, soul sample loops and mental thought raps never ceased. True Hip-Hop fans need to say thank you.
As a North Carolina resident, and I’m disappointed to see the saga come to an end so soon. Not even to mention the long, ongoing feud with ex-member 9th Wonder, a beef the internet masses witnessed revamped not too long ago. No disrespect to producer Khrysis, but most of us fans would have liked to see the trio back together for the final project. Though personal situations seemed to override the desires for long loving Hip-Hop fans, the music quality never ceased and again, I thank LB for that. I truly do.
Mad at Little Brother? It’s finally time to get over it. As Phonte said: “Tough t####, get a training bra.” Let’s not fret. This underground duo out of Durham, NC did wonders for Hip-Hop and we delve deep into the issue in this exclusive interview with the group.
AllHipHop.com: So first and foremost, why no more albums?
Phonte: We wanted to just end it. We pretty much taken as far as we can as a unit. We felt we should give ours fans one last record and really say everything we had to say and leave everthing on a final note.
AllHipHop.com: Leftback, was originally supposed to be EP full of songs that were left off of Getback. What are some of the new songs added to the project.
Rapper Big Pooh: Technically, it is only one song that we actually used that was leftover from the Geftback time period. I don’t really like to say what song it is because a lot of people were complaining talking about “Ya’ll just giving us a bunch of leftover material” and they probably could not pick the left over song out. There was only one song that was leftover, but all the rest of the songs that were recorded was either reworked or super fresh.
Little Brother – “Curtain Call”
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people were shocked to learn that 9th wasn’t about apart of the last project. I’m pretty sure if you guys wanted him involved, it would have happened. Who’s idea was it to not invite him back?
Phonte: It was all of our choices. We choose not to reach out to him so, he choose not to reach out to us. It was a mutual decision between everybody. That is about it.
AllHipHop.com: People are still confused about why 9th Wonder or his label choose to pull “Star” as a bonus track on iTunes. Do you guys think that he is trying to push you guys away or disconnect himself from you guys as afar as pulling the track? I didn’t see any harm in allowing the track to stay on, so how do you think of the situation that went down.
Phonte: I have no idea. I do not know, you would have to ask him (laughs).
Rapper Big Pooh: We just know it happened and know it is what it is at this point. But as far as all the other stuff such as him trying to push us away that is with no concern to us. All those questions are things you would definitely need to ask him and see where he stands we have no ideal and we really have no concern with it.
AllHipHop.com: With all honestly, did you guys ever see the last Little Brother album with 9th? How did you guys settle on the decision to not have him on?
Phonte: I mean there’s a lot of reasons why, but ultimately – you can look at the video I put out – Little Brother has not been a group in its original form since ’03, maybe early ’04. Once you get used to operating without him for so long then after a while it is like…”ok.” In terms of us doing the last record without him, it wasn’t even a big thing because we did the last three records without him for all lutensive purposes and that is pretty much it.
AllHipHop.com: Along with 9th being absent from the project, I know people were expecting Illmind to be on there as well. Is there any reasons why Illmind isn’t on the project?
Phonte: No it was no reason. We were going with records we had. Khrysis ended up doing the bulk of this production we had a lot of song ideals that started off with him. So we just finishing up with him. But there are no problems with Illmind and that is still my man. We’re still going to get something in for future projects that I will do. It was just that thing where the timing did not work out but it was no particular reason why he was not on it or we physically did not choose to work with Illmind. But we will definitely get some work in with him.
Little Brother – “Step It Up”
Rapper Big Pooh: That goes for Illmind and a lot of producers we work with on a frequent basis as well. It was a lot of people calling like “Yo what’s up!” It was just the timing of the whole decision and the process we were already in that it just worked out that Khyrsis ended up with the bulk of the material.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of Khyris, he produced the lead single, “Curtain Call” which speaks about the groups final hours. How did you guys prepare for the track since it’s talking about the ending of the group.
Rapper Big Pooh: It actually happened in a couple of different phases, but ultimately Phonte hit me with the idea he had and a verse. Originally I had another verse on that track, but after hearing the direction he went in I just thought it was more appropriate for me to go back in and re-do my verse and not necessarily match it, but go with the tone he set with his verse and the hook. So I just went back in and let it flow. I know for me it was not a real deep process but more so reflecting, a quick reflection and that is how it just ended up running down discography.
Rapper Big Pooh: Pretty much the same thing. Just wanted to give people an explanation or understanding on why things the way they are and just information to summarize it all up. Like if we had one verse to do it then that would be it.
AllHipHop.com: Phonte at the end of the track you shout out rookies Tanya Morgan, J.Cole, Wale, Jay Electronica. What it about those artist that earned them a shout out on the last album?
Phonte: I believe those are some of the artists that are kind of cut from the same cloth in terms of taking their careers into their own hands and really having their career start off kind of on a ground swell, on a grass roots level. Just letting their music grow organically. I just really thought that they identify that. It is not to often that you hear rappers shout out other rappers these days. I remember on one of Ice Cube records he had a part a song called “I Gotta Say What Up” and the whole song was nothing but shout outs. It was just him talking over a beat shouting out to n****s he f***ed with. I really do not see that commodity in Hip-Hop anymore. For cats to do collabs just for the sake of whatever, its just straight up showing love but you do not see that anymore I just want to bring it back to that. There’s also some other cats who are like that.
AllHipHop.com: If a fan didn’t start with the The Listening or The Minstrel Show, would you say there’s a track on LeftBack that will take them to the group’s beginning sound?Phonte: No, I dont think there is any like that we cant even go back that far. I dont see that happening.
Rapper Big Pooh: Its hard to go back to that time period. If this is there first introduction to Little Brother, I think it will be a good introduction for them because we just actually went in and made jams. I actually think it would be an excellent introduction and it would make them want to go back and listen to our past records. I dont think there going to hear anything and it instantly remind of The Listening or TheMinstrel Show… maybe Getback but other than that this 2010 this is going to remind you of 2010.
Phonte Speaks On 9th Wonder and the Feud
AllHipHop.com: You guys grabbed the attention of mainstream artists in the past- for instance, Lil Wayne. Why did you guys choose to stay so close to home with the features and the production when you guys probable could have gotten instead more familiar features?
Rapper Big Pooh: We want to go out with the same people we came in with. That’s simply stated.
AllHipHop.com: What does the future have in hold for the Justus League since Little Brother will no longer be in the forefront?
Rapper Big Pooh: As far as the Justus League, that has not been a functioning group in years- functioning collective I say. I dont know what a lot of them cats are doing. I know Phonte and Nicolay started Foreign Exchange Music, so along with Foreign Exchange the group, they have other artists that they are nurturing and putting albums out with Yahzarah and Zo. As far as myself, Bill, Hall of Justus, Chaundon, Josie Moe, and Joe Scudda… So thats basically what it is for us. Oh, excuse me. Also with Foreign Exchange Music, Median. Didnt want to leave him out. As far as the other cats, I couldnt really tell you. I wish them much success in whatever their future endeavors are, but we do not really keep up with each other like that.
AllHipHop.com: As Pooh stated, Phonte you have your whole R&B thing going on with Nicolay right now, but can we expect a solo rap album from you?
Phonte: Yeah, I’ma do one next year.
AllHipHop.com: Have you been thinking of a title or anything?
Phonte: (laughs) I have not even got that far. I just know I’m going to do one next year just because that is the one thing I haven’t done by myself. It will be mostly Hip-Hop. About 70 percent of it should be Hip-Hop, but I will also have some of my R&B stuff on it as well. I want it to mainly be Hip-Hop, but I’ll do it as some point.
AllHipHop.com: What is your last words for hip hop
Rapper Big Pooh: Thank yall for listening and thank yall for the support. Thats the company line right there and that is what we tell them.