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Somewhere between the jazzy, feel-good grooves of A Tribe Called Quest and the yin-yang chemistry of Outkast lies Little Brother. The Durham, NC trio make music that brilliantly splits the line between art and commercialism, all while maintaining their fun-loving hip-hop purist stance. The group's members; MC's Phonte and Big Pooh, along with DJ/producer 9th Wonder met in 1998 while attending North Carolina Central University.
Within a few short months of recording, the trio had gathered enough songs to grab the attention of local music lovers, radio DJ's, and club promoters. The group received frequent spins on college radio. They regularly headlined at local venues and opened for national acts such as Tha Liks and Defari. When the group made its music available for download on the Internet, a substantial buzz built far outside of North Carolina, and it eventually earned them a deal with the Oakland-based ABB Records in 2002. In early 2003, Little Brother released its full-length debut, The Listening, which won both widespread critical praise and a bevy of artist endorsements.
"Officially endorsed by the likes of ?uestlove and Pete Rock, Little Brother's lush, jazzy, subterranean grooves, casually clever lyrics, and coffeehouse vibe don't conform to anyone's idea of what constitutes Southern hip-hop, but that's part of what makes the trio so exciting. At once unabashedly retro and minty fresh, The Listening seems destined to trigger ecstatic flashbacks for anyone who first fell for hip-hop around the time of People's Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm and 3 Feet High And Rising." - Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club