The North Carolina rap group, Little Brother - made up of Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh - made a surprise announcement yesterday that they would be dropping their fifth studio album - and first album together in nine years - May The Lord Watch at midnight. The album was teased a few days beforehand on Phonte's Instagram account with a clip featuring the logo of the fictional television network, UBN, that was introduced on their critically-acclaimed 2005 album, The Minstrel Show.
May The Lord Watch opens with a UBN jingle, just as The Minstrel Show did. Rehashing a concept from almost fifteen years ago runs the risk of cooking with stale ingredients. However, from the first song, it's clear that this introduction is ushering in artists who possess the same freshness and chemistry that they did when they first started carving their paths in the game.
Despite the group's powerful third member, 9th Wonder, being absent from the production credits, the album is filled with the same soulful samples and swinging drums that has characterized Little Brother's sound. MTLW boasts beats from a large cast of producers, including Khrysis, Focus and Nottz, Black Milk, Abjo, Devin Morrison, Blaaq Gold, and King Michael Coy. On the vocal front, Little Brother returns with their sharp lyricism, intricate wordplay and seasoned storytelling. All of this is further amplified by the wisdom that comes with age. Whenever veteran rap artists make a comeback, we are often blessed with their new-found birds-eye-view perspective of the world, the industry, their relationships and themselves. All the paranoia and pressure of figuring shit out is shed, and they are able to comfortably spit about whatever they feel like, knowing they've found some answers.