Little Brother Talk Calling It Quits After ‘Leftback’
"I'm so friggin' jealous of Little Brother," said Roots drummer and music director Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson around the time of Little Brother's 2003 debut, 'The Listening.' "Hip-hop the way I love it -- tight beats and on point lyrics! I made 4,887,234 people listen to 'Whatever You Say' at gunpoint, and I don't even own a gun!"
Following the release of 'The Listening,' Little Brother would go on to become one of the most revered and hard-working crews around. But the trio that made Questlove pull an imaginary bop gun on nearly five million people is ending its career. The next album 'Leftback,' due April 20, will be their last.
"I want the Little Brother legacy to be one of consistency," Rapper Big Pooh told the BoomBox. "I would like to be remembered as the group that always put out great music no matter the situation."
When Pooh formed Little Brother with Phonte and producer 9th Wonder back in the late 90s, the situation was three college kids making music simply for the love of making music. The group has since been pared down to two in the wake of 9th Wonder's departure prior to the release of 2007's 'Getback,' but the love is still there, despite a myriad of personal and professional changes. Little Brother have fought mainstream media and major labels, earned the respect of both their peers and idols, and stayed gimmick-free throughout it all.
"I'd just want us to be remembered as two honest guys who had a lot of fun making the music they loved," says Phonte, who will continue his career as a guest MC and most notably, half of the Grammy-nominated Foreign Exchange duo with Dutch producer Nicolay. Leftback will feature production from fellow Justus League member Khrysis, as well as frequent Foreign Exchange collaborator Zo! and Denaun Porter. Initial pressings of the album will include a limited-edition, bonus feature DVD. Created documentary style, the DVD will showcase recent tours and exclusive Little Brother archival career footage. "I wanted to walk away from Little Brother knowing that I gave our fans all that I had to give and said everything I wanted to say," Phonte explains. "With 'Leftback,' I've done that."
As for Pooh's future, he says "I plan on building my solo brand through music and other ventures, with a solo album coming this fall entitled 'Dirty Pretty Things.'" The pair will embark on tour once 'Leftback' is released, giving fans one last opportunity to see Little Brother in the flesh. The importance of performing live is just one of many lessons Phonte and Pooh have learned along the way, which makes them well-prepared for the future.
"The most important thing I have probably learned is you have to keep working at your craft," says Pooh. "Saying you're the best is one thing, but being the best takes a lot of hard work."
"No one will work harder for you than you will for yourself," Phonte adds. "If you don't have moments where you feel like quitting, then you ain't working hard enough."
Download the 'Leftback' single 'Curtain Call' here.