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Little Brother's "May The Lord Watch" Is a Nostalgic Hip-Hop Gem

The album is a welcomed surprise

Little Brother's improbable 5th album came as a surprise release last night.

During a recent appearance on The Breakfast Club, Rapper Big Pooh was asked about the status of Little Brother. In their first performance in 13 years, the act had just performed last-minute at the Art Of Cool festival in their hometown of Durham, North Carolina. Needless to say, the performance kicked off buzz about a possible reunion. "[The performance] forced all three of us to have the conversations we didn't have prior," Pooh said. "We all needed to mature in our communication."

May The Lord Watch, is a testament to that conversation. The duo adamantly commemorates their growth since 2010, but the project flourishes when each emcee admits to the personal shortcomings that have plagued them over the years. "I laid in my bed and thought about everything," Phonte raps on "Everything." "The house, the kids the wedding rings, the inner peace that I've never seen." On "What I Came For," Rapper Big Pooh says, "Enduring the test of time is an attribute," adding ferocious wordplay, "I put my rep on the line every time I design a new rhyme."

Perhaps that's why May The Lord Watch sounds and feels like a tight-knit LB record from the days of yore. The duo tweaked and resurrected their "UBN" skits from The Minstrel Show. "Tell me how to get back to the feel again," they sing on the album's opener. It's clear the duo pines for simpler times, but at the same time they admit: "Listen, ain't too much changed, we all gotta go through things."

The record doesn't paint itself as a comeback so much as a continuation. Both emcees sound as charismatic as ever, and while 9th Wonder's absence is notable, the production is in line with the boom-bap flavor Little Brother is known for. The record serves as a nostalgic trip down memory lane, for both listeners and LB. "Now I'm on Instagram, damn, they havin a ball. That was me once upon a time," Rapper Big Pooh says on "Sittin Alone." "Now I'm happy to fall fast asleep, sound of rain on repeat."

May The Lord Watch isn't a grandiose announcement or a demonstration that each emcee can still rap; both Phonte and Pooh know the latter to be true. In a time when pandering to nostalgia is all too common, it's refreshingly clear that Little Brother's 5th record was crafted organically and without any agenda other than to give fans new music. "Might not come when you want it, but it's right on time," they rap. "One trick ponies don't get a second act."

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