Today in Hip Hop History: The Listening

Today in Hip Hop History: The Listening Little Brother
The Listening (2003)

Today in Hip Hop History: February 25, 2003

North Carolina based trio Little Brother released their debut album, The Listening, 13 years ago today. The trio consists of rappers Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh in addition to in-house producer 9th Wonder. They originally met at North Carolina Central University and created an alternative hip hop sound unique to the region at the time.

The Listening is completely produced by 9th Wonder with the exception of outside help from Eccentric on “The Get-Up.” Within this sense of complete control over the project, Little Brother set out to explain exactly who they are with this record.

It’s clearly not a fluke or a mistake there wasn’t a big national single before this LP. One single would not define Little Brother.

The trio composed a holistic concept album introducing themselves to hip hop music. Despite a lack of promotion and distribution channels, the album became a large hit among underground hip hop. Little Brother discovered their niche in hip hop along the lines of a conscientious alternative sound; similar to that of Oakland based Hieroglyphics, Black Star and Slum Village, to name a few.

Little Brother received significant acclaim from hip hop heads and artists alike; Questlove, Pete Rock, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Kanye West, among others, have all expressed their interest in the group and their music. Despite this, copies of The Listening were difficult to come by due to the independent nature of the record distribution. Thus, it did not place on any charts or earn any RIAA Certifications.

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