Ever since Little Brother dropped The Listening (and months before that), the North Carolina based duo has been the antithesis of blinged out Clear-Channel owned "payola rap" that has dominated the airwaves.
And its true. 9th Wonder's airy, organic templates sound nothing like Jay-Z or Lil' John. The Brothers don't rap about cars, platinum chains, Escalades, or any amount of bling for that matter. The fact that a major label (Atlantic Records) gave them a deal is downright amazing when you think about it. And for this, we are blessed.
However, Little Brother hasn't made it to the next level without controversy. BET has gone on the record saying that the groups new single, "Lovin' It" was "too intelligent" for its audience. And to date, I haven't heard their new single on the radio at all.
Maybe this is because The Minstrel Show takes the backwards thinking of corporate entities like BET to task. The "show" revolves around the fictional network of UBN, the New Black Niggas Network. And yes, the slight at UPN is intentional.
But with all of the drama that around what this album is and what its meant to be, the content itself is fairly mundane and unexciting. Other than the hilarious R-Kelly-esque, "Cheatin," featuring Percy Miracles and "Hiding Place ," a majority of this album can be relegated to background music, with one track unfortunately blending into another.
The Little Brother/9th Wonder/"airy, organic, beat" formula is on its last legs and LB is gonna need a complete and total reinvention to remain relevant. For their next album, the group should definitely think about opening up their sound to other producers (Dangermouse?) and diversify their sound.
Having that said, The Minstrel Show isn't all bad. But since I have followed LB (not to mention other 9th Wonder projects) for the past few years, the archaic formula of The Minstrel Show just doesnâ€™t give me anything new to be excited about.