18 Songs, 58 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Borrowing some conceptual inspiration from Spike Lee’s movie Bamboozled, North Carolina hip-hop trio Little Brother jump to a major label with The Minstrel Show. Rapper-producer 9th Wonder has garnered attention for his work with the likes of Jay-Z, but the group’s underground vision stands on its own here. Some incisively funny moments are among the highlights (the R. Kelly parody “Cheatin’” boasts a spot-on Ronald Isley imitation and a non-rhyme that may be the set’s best joke), but the three also bring earnest criticism of black culture, praise for romantic partners, and tales of the struggle toward recognition. The show-within-an-album conceit does break the fourth wall, allowing for Little Brother to dramatize all this within kicked-back tracks whose layers invite repeated listens.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Borrowing some conceptual inspiration from Spike Lee’s movie Bamboozled, North Carolina hip-hop trio Little Brother jump to a major label with The Minstrel Show. Rapper-producer 9th Wonder has garnered attention for his work with the likes of Jay-Z, but the group’s underground vision stands on its own here. Some incisively funny moments are among the highlights (the R. Kelly parody “Cheatin’” boasts a spot-on Ronald Isley imitation and a non-rhyme that may be the set’s best joke), but the three also bring earnest criticism of black culture, praise for romantic partners, and tales of the struggle toward recognition. The show-within-an-album conceit does break the fourth wall, allowing for Little Brother to dramatize all this within kicked-back tracks whose layers invite repeated listens.

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