The Wonder Year: Little Brother’s acclaimed ‘The Listening’ album explored | Documentary Preview


10 years ago Little Brother‘s lauded début album The Listening slid into my CD player and did not exit for more than a year. The refreshing sounds of two young but socially aware and proficient North Carolina emcees combined with a throwback producer with an amazing ear for a dope loop/sample and signature drum kicks lit a fire in the underground and forced me to play it for anyone who would listen and many who didn’t want to hear.

The music wasn’t snappy or riotous like fellow North Carolina rapper and (then) rising star Petey Pablo but it resonated with fans on a different level. It would be later suggested that Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh and 9th Wonder kickstarted a movement that had died down after the slow dissolution of the Native Tongues Movement. None of that crossed my mind when I tore the plastic from that disc. I read every letter in the short liner notes and pressed the “repeat” option for continuous spin.

The acclaimed and controversial second album, Minstrel Show was a marked sign of growth from the group but also began their downfall due to label politics, a misguided video boycott from BET and unknown to the fans, group dissension.

The Wonder Year documentary is a close look at all of these items from a hiphop crew that started by only wanting to make good music. Watch an 8-minute excerpt below focusing on the trio’s début album The Listening.

The Wonder Year DVD is available now via Jamla Records.