Song of the Day: Little Brother “All In A Day”
This has been a triumphant week for hip-hop fans of a certain vintage, those that like their snares swinging hard into the 2 and the 4, soulful musical beds, clever rhymes and mature topics delivered with swagger. Little Brother dropped a new album this week after nine years since their last project, with interpersonal conflicts laid to rest that at one time guaranteed their discography would never have new additions.
The Little Brother story is a compelling one with many critical plot twists. Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh and 9th Wonder linked up in the late ’90s in North Carolina at a time when their sound was atypical for southern rap and the indie/major label industry split was becoming more pronounced. Their group name established them as younger siblings of influential forebears like A Tribe Called Quest and Questlove of The Roots was one of their first major cosigners.
Producer 9th Wonder was the first to depart from the group after two studio albums with lyricists Phonte and Big Pooh continuing on with mixtapes and another two albums before firmly establishing that the group was officially defunct. The three of them focused on their respective solo careers and wouldn’t share a stage for eleven long years until a surprise reunion at the 2018 Art Of Cool festival.
After that completely unexpected reunion that nearly broke the internet, the Little Brother fan network was buzzing at the potential of new music from the crew, with Phonte and Pooh hinting at the possibility. But instead of teasing it out, they went silent for almost an entire year until the announcement of the new album May The Lord Watch this week. Instead of talking about it, they were working.
May The Lord Watch is a tight collection of classically crafted rap music that finds the reunited emcees as sharp with the pen as they’ve ever been. 9th Wonder colleague Khrysis is joined by a crew that includes Nottz, Focus and Black Milk on the beats. King Michael Coy is behind the boards on “All In A Day” which is currently getting my highest tally of rewinds. His synth chord backdrop with steel pan accents leaves a lot of space for Phonte and Pooh to weave their signature flows with a number of quotables with BeMyFiasco‘s vocals providing an emotional link between verses. Phonte sticks in my head with these particularly sharp bars coming from the perspective of a veteran:
“Know thyself and the lights on the scene won’t blind.
Just work, ’cause well-oiled machines don’t grind.
Thin line between novel versus novelty.
My rate of jewels per verse is just perverse.”