Artist: Little BrotherTitle: The Chitlin Circuit 1.5Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne
It seems that, at least nowadays, mixtapes are rarely breathtaking releases. Minus the odd exclusive that the listener has been itching for, the mix CD’s that flood the market seem oversaturated with filler. Let it be known, then, that Little Brother’s latest is an exception. Essentially a mixtape project comprised of rare and unreleased cuts, as well as a few new joints, The Chitlin’ Circuit 1.5 (Fastlife) is a stunning release.
Opening with the standout “War” Phonte and Pooh trade lines over the soulful beats the group is known for, complete with tinkling bells and crooning background vocals. Phonte’s verse sounds typically effortless, and its no surprise that he has gained some notoriety as the group’s profile has risen. However, partner in rhyme Pooh’s lyrics cannot be overlooked, as he refers to his music as “non-perishable – my records don’t expire/ I’m that blue flame if we speaking on fires”. To top an already brilliant track off, DJ Flash enters to impressive effect with his scratching.
Another high point, ‘’Third Party’’, contrasts perfectly with “War”. The former sounds relatively humorous (albeit in a dark way) thanks to its booming, distorted male chant and eccentric instrumental. Guest spitter Joe Scudda is a satisfactory match for Pooh, as he instructs the hangers on, “don’t call me mister. Call me master”. Meanwhile, the current darling of Hip-Hop production and surely the next Kanye minus the rapping – 9th Wonder – is consistently strong behind the boards.
Truthfully though, it’s difficult to select the high points for this effort as there are far more hits than misses. Whether this is dubbed a mixtape, a ‘lost tapes’ style collection, or just an underground album, it remains that The Chitlin’ Circuit 1.5 is an immensely satisfying fix for Hip-Hop junkies. The remixes could have been replaced with a few more fresh songs, and even the longest cuts on this mix sound too short, but both of these criticisms are simply a testament to the CD’s quality. The hugely talented group continues raising expectations for their proper sophomore album, The Minstrel Show, to feverish proportions with this release. Little Brother may yet prove to be a dominant force in rap’s ever growing family.