An interesting thing happens when you announce you are making your final album. Expectations become incredibly high. Reactions come in bundles of confusion, a mixture of emotion brought upon by years of what fans have known and loved and what they don’t want to see come to an end. Alas, as they say, all things must come to an inevitable finale and that is definitely the case with the trio-turned-duo, Little Brother. With the release of Leftback, Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh call it quits as a group to focus on other endeavors and this album is their curtain call.
The Durham, North Carolina brothers start the album off appropriately enough, with the Khrysis-produced “Curtain Call” Pooh points out the obvious, but also shares plans for the future while rhyming, “This is it, the last monologue / Last act in the play, you could say the epilogue / New books to begin, dear friends / You can always press rewind and relive it, again.” The song acts as a good introduction and says about all that needs to be said about their farewell.
There are some pitfalls in this, of course. Since much of what needs to be said is done in the introduction, the rest of the album becomes less of a final run and more of a regular release. There are too many guests for it to be the last time we’ll hear these two together for a full length, there is no real outro and there is some repetition in subject matter. For instance, “Table for Two,” “What We Are,” “After the Party,” and “Second Chances” with Bilal and Darien Brockington are all worthy, honest tracks but all carry a very similar tone. With production inspired by mellow vibes, all can be labeled “love songs” and that isn’t to knock the duo for rhyming about lady friends, but it seems that it’s done too often on one album. While repetition can hurt the overall play, LB knows how to turn things up.
“Tigallo for Dolo,” “24” and “Get Enough Pt. II” act as reminders that these emcees can truly spit with the best of them. Phonte lets loose on “Dolo,” sharing, “Twenty-one years old, I used to slang verses but 10 years later, I am not the same person.” Adding that he’s grown and that he has a new purpose, it’s clear that Little Brother has also grown and both emcees have new directions they’d like to take. Growth is always commendable, but when these two rhyme like this, it’s difficult for fans not to want another Little Brother joint.
Nevertheless, this is the final installment. While it may not be the classic fans were hoping for when word got out that they were calling it quits as a group, it serves as a reminder of what Little Brother has been for so many years. As the curtain falls, fans can remember The Listening, The Minstrel Show, Getback and more. That can only be done, mind you, if you’ve truly been listening.