Although more than nine long years have passed since the Hip-Hop world was blessed with a full length collaborative body of work from North Carolina’s finest; Phonte, née Coleman, and Thomas “Big Pooh” Jones, this past summer – August 20th to be exact- marked the long awaited, not to mention highly anticipated, triumphant return of Little Brother.
Conceptualized following an impromptu reunion performance at the 2018 Art of Cool Festival in their home state, the pair combined to create May The Lord Watch. The album was recorded and mixed at The Autumn Attic and The Burlap Palace in Raleigh. May The Lord Watch is a 30 minute, 15-track audio eargasm, with stellar production courtesy of Khrysis, Focus…, Blaaq Gold, King Michael Coy, Abjo, Zo!, Nottz, Devin Morrison, as well Phonte himself. #RIPPercyMiracles
We caught up with Little Brother for a conversation about their May The Lord Watch album, reuniting and much more. Check out the full Little Brother interview below.
Parlé Mag: Welcome back! First things first, a huge congrats on this exceedingly overdue, but definitely well worth its wait, fifth studio collection, May The Lord Watch. Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you all?
Little Brother (Phonte): It’s a phrase normally said at the end of church service as a way of sending well wishes to your fellow parishioners. It also represents the shift that me and Pooh’s relationship has taken over the years. We’re not just making music together, we’re actually watching over each other and covering each other’s backs.
Parlé Mag: Now seeing that it’s been well over 9 years since your last group LP, Leftback, why has it taken this amount of time for a follow up Little Brother record?
Little Brother: I think we both needed time to figure out who we were outside of Little Brother. Plus, we had a lot of growing up to do.
Parlé Mag: That said, what all exactly prompted you all to disband in the first place? And, what ultimately had to take place before a reunion could even become possible?
Little Brother (Phonte): Nothing major, just a bunch of petty shit. Minor scrapes that we left unattended and became large, festering wounds over time. Before a reunion could take place, Pooh and I had to have long conversations and sort everything out. Airing out all our grievances and ultimately letting them go.
Parlé Mag: One major difference with this project is the absence of former member/producer 9th Wonder, however upon first listen it became clear very quickly that his presence isn’t necessarily missed, and I mean this in the most respectful way possible. To further clarify, I just anticipated that the overall sound wouldn’t be up to par or really measure up without his musical accompaniment. In my humblest opinion, this is THE strongest/most cohesive LB entry to date! In having said all of this, how did y’all manage to recapture the same magic with one man down? At any point, were you all worried about the overall outcome without 9th non participation? And, do you all think you will ever incorporate 9th Wonder into another LB situation; albeit on stage and/or on wax?
Little Brother: Little Brother has officially been a duo since 2007, and it will remain that way.
Parlé Mag: How else then does May The Lord Watch either differ and/or compare to previous Little Brother efforts?
Little Brother (Phonte): This is the first LB record that I engineered and mixed all the vocals for, and we recorded every song together.
Parlé Mag: May The Lord Watch is an Imagine Nation Music / For Members Only / EMPIRE project — What particular string of events actually led up to this distribution signing?
Little Brother: We’ve been putting out our own records independently for the past decade. This is the first LB record that we own, and ownership of this record was a non-negotiable for us.
Parlé Mag: Switching gears here, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you all as individuals, either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?Little Brother (Phonte): I used to take rejection personally when I was younger. I’m 40 now. Outside of my friends and family, I give way less fucks about everything.
Parlé Mag: Longevity, what do you all attribute yours to?
Little Brother: Doing right by people, making music we could be proud of, and staying clear of sucker shit.
Parlé Mag: What do you all want people to get from your music?
Little Brother: Whatever it is that they’re most in need of.
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you all happy with the current state of Hip Hop?
Little Brother (Phonte): Again, I’m 40. I don’t care about any of this shit…lol. I just make the music I wanna make for the people who want to hear it, and then I go live my life.
Parlé Mag: Do you all have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?
Little Brother: I enjoy voice acting and dancing.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your greatest career achievement(s), at least thus far anyway?
Little Brother: Sesame Street, hands down. Once you’ve been Muppet-ized, life’s all downhill from there.
Parlé Mag: One track of yours that you all think defines you all and why?
Little Brother: “Goodmorning Sunshine,” off our new album, produced by our longtime collaborator Focus…; that’s probably the most “Little Brother” song of all time.
Parlé Mag: Will you guys continue to execute your solo projects now that you all have finally come back together?
Little Brother: Yes, indeed.
Parlé Mag: Lastly, what’s next for Little Brother?
Little Brother: More shows and more music.
Parlé Mag: Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
Little Brother: Thank you for listening.
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