The Jackson 5 said you never can say goodbye. Unfortunately for their fans, Little Brother attempts to prove that notion wrong as they release their final album LeftBack and ride off into the sunset. Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte seem ready to embark on new journeys, both releasing separate projects recently.
Both rappers still possess the hunger for more lyrically, but for entirely different reasons. Phonte seems hell bent on proving that he can do it alone. Pooh on the other hand is trying to prove his viability as a solo emcee.
The album opens with “Curtain Call” which leads findsPhonte already placing both himself and Big Pooh beyond Little brother and frames the album as a return for one last round. That speaks volumes as to their mindset and also whether their hearts were 100% behind this project. The rhymes are cool but Phonte’s delivery is a bit weak. Pooh on the other hand has a higher level of vigor as he goes through an LB history lesson.
“Table For Two” is a slow, plodding grove that features a guest verse from Jozeemo that serves as the song’s high point. Pooh has a few clever lines but not enough to save this. Phonte goes solo on a track that closely resembles their early soundwith “Tigallo For Dolo.” “Sometimes I have to question if i really want it” raps Phonte mid-verse, as he feels a bit disinterested with his present career situation . Truck North and Median assist on “Revenge.” The ambient voices in the background and the James Brown chopped sample on the hook are nice elements. The mic passing between Phonte and Median on the last verse shows some solid chemistry and closes the song well.
King Karnov produced “So Cold” with guest Chaundon features a bottom heavy beat with the crooner on the hook doing their best D’Angelo impression (not sure if it’s Phonte singing). Phonte runs the middle leg of this track with malice intended; crisp delivery and lines that make you burrow your eyebrows and bob your head. Chaundon brings a flare to the cleanup slot with a bit less laser sharpness but much more energy.
Dithering keys and a slithering bassline allow Bilal to bring his trademarked neurosis to full tilt on Denaun Porter produced “Second Chances.” The music on this song is beautifully arranged and the interplay between the rapped verses and the sang chorus on the last stanza weave in and out like red and blue Tron cycles racing each other. “Go Off Go On” is similar in vein but a weak chorus deflates it. Big Pooh really spazzes out, while Phonte’s verse doesn’t really do anything special until two bars before the end.
“What We Are” featuring Quiana is one of far too many relationship songs. It’s not syrupy by any means and is well put together. The song deals with what happens when you hook up but you realize the relationship isn’t going anywhere. This could serve as a metaphor for the group but it’s not really spelled out explicitly. “After the Party” boasts a piano key opening and a semi comedic internal monologue from Phonte showcasing his range, humor, and personality. The track runs on a well balanced thump, with beat and rhyme fusing nicely.
“2 Step Blues” picks up the pace of the album with lively vocals. It’s really “Just Got Paid” 2.0 in function. Nice horn solo and piano keys close the song out nicely. The energy is maintained with “Get Enough.” Towering, aggressive drums power this song. Phonte sounds like he’s still going strong with LB, in stark contrast with the sentiment on the rest of the album. He comes out swinging on all sucker emcees but Big Pooh steals the show on this Khrysis-produced and guest rapped banger.
“Before The Night Is Over” is another slow half R&B infused relationship record. Lyrically it’s more than adequate but mood wise it’s just another slow paced song that prevents you from really celebrating the Little Brother legacy.
“24” featuring Torae thankfully breaks the monotony with a heavy dose of Y chromosome heat. Torae muscles this high-powered song from inception, changing the energy/pace of the entire album. His aggression immediatelzgvfffffffby stands out and forces Pooh and Phonte to raise their energy level above what they have shown on the rest of the album. This song would have done better in the middle of the album, serving to break up the monotony of a few too any similar songs.
This album has a strange energy to it. There are some musical highs that allow you to appreciate what a loss LB’s retirement is. However there are a few too many similar songs placed together. It’s not their worst album, but it doesn’t surpass their better albums/mixtapes. The proliferation of slow-paced songs delivers an overall sadness when they would have been better served going out with a bang.
3.25 out of 5
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