Little Brother

Getback (ABB Records)

"I came back from NY, nigga lost his deal/Felt sick to the stomach, almost lost his meal," raps Phonte on Getback's first track, "Sirens." He's referring to his duo Little Brother's exit from Atlantic Records after sales from the group's major-label debut, The Minstrel Show, failed to meet expectations. Getback was instead released on indie ABB Records — which also put out the group's heralded 2003 debut, The Listening — and is surely a much stronger record for it.

It's largely a personal reflection on the past year's events, which also include the duo's parting ways with producer 9th Wonder. Musically the album could have used more of 9th's seamless, soul-influenced beats; he produces only one song here, "Breakin My Heart," which, like every other recent track in the universe, also features Lil Wayne. But while predictable subjects like clothes and infidelity pop up, songs like "Can't Win for Losing" — in which Big Pooh raps, "[E]verybody changed overnight, when the numbers came back light" — express a vulnerability rarely seen in hip-hop. We've heard a thousand times about the excitement that comes with getting signed to a major deal. Finally we get the other side of the story.

 
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