When Little Brother announced their comeback after an eight-year hiatus, their dedicated fan base knew the duo would deliver another highly acclaimed project. Little Brother — made of Phonte and Big Pooh — dropped May The Lord Watch in August, and the album is as critically acclaimed as ever. Summit Music Hall welcomed the rappers with open arms on Friday night and embraced their return to the stage.
Phonte and Big Pooh were traditionally joined with producer 9th Wonder until his departure from the group in 2007. Little Brother’s name is derived from the notion that the group serves as hip hop’s little brother, with groups like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and other golden era acts posing as the older brother. After calling it quits as a group in 2010, Phonte and Big Pooh reunited in 2016 after the passing of A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg and got back on stage together (along with 9th Wonder) in 2018. 9th Wonder has not rejoined the group on a permanent basis and was not present at the Denver show.
In their return to Denver, the two came on at 10 p.m., and Phonte dished on their punctuality. “When you come to a Little Brother show, you’re on grown man rap time,” he explained. “Little Brother makes music for people who have shit to do.” The musicians referred to this comedic change in their delivery as “rap after 40,” citing a need to stretch before their shows and take yoga classes with sweaty white women.
“Speed,” a favorite off of their first album, 2003’s The Listening, received a hyped reaction from their long-standing followers — especially when Phonte kicked off some fiery dance moves. The rappers encouraged their audience to take off the expectations and pressures of other people like a coat, enforcing that their fans don’t have to deal with it before jumping into “Say It Again.” The track is one of their standouts from arguably their most popular album, 2005’s The Minstrel Show. “I like how inclusive Little Brother shows are,” said Big Pooh. “I like that so many different people can come and have a great time together.”
The second portion of their set pepped up in energy with, “Goodmorning Sunshine,” off of August’s release. “Step My Game Up” and other beloved old school tracks drove the night into a close, but not before they returned to round out a fiesty encore. DJ Flash, who had served the night on tables behind the emcees, kept the spirit alive with a few remaining songs as the fans finished their drinks and filtered out of the venue.
The duo is back and better than ever, with their live perfromance as the final proof that their return was needed for the hip hop community. Summit Music Hall rocked along with the “rap after 40,” which gives hope to all of the hip hop addicts who fear that classic rap will one day be no more. Acts like Little Brother give us hope, and Denver always supports the ones who keep coming back.