Little Brother's ...And Justus for All | Record Review | Indy Week

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Little Brother's ...And Justus for All

(Hall of Justus)

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Read our interview with Phonte Coleman and DJ Flash

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Little Brother—Phonte Coleman and Rapper Big Pooh—have a thing with food: In 2006, after seeing Little Brother open for MF Doom at New York's Nokia Theater, The Village Voice's former vowel-vomiting vigilante blogger Tom Breihan noted, "Phonte and Big Pooh both do great fat-guy dances." Phonte's repartee was soon ricocheting off of blogs and music message boards: "And fuck Village Voice for sending Tom Breihan to review that Doom show. That's like sending a vegan to review the 30th Annual New Hope Baptist Church Fried Chicken contest." The cover art of Rapper's Delight—Pooh's soon-to-be-released mixtape with Cleveland Cavaliers DJ Mick Boogie—shows Pooh holding a handful of Blow-Pops while standing in front of a large shelf teeming with assorted candies. And last year, on the free, download-only mixtape ...And Justus For All, Phonte devoted an entire verse on "Never Leave" to honoring Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and denouncing rival, "fat-guy" treats like Dunkin' Donuts and Little Debbie: "Fuck 'em," he shouts about both.

Little Brother has reworked Justus, though, re-releasing it in retail form with 16 full-length songs, omitting much of Mick Boogie's superfluous cascade of DJ punch-ins, shout-outs and drops. If you want to know what it sounds like when a technically styled and skilled (cuttin', scratchin', blendin', mixin') DJ works, listen to a DJ Babu set or dig up some old Chris Crossphader stuff. If you want to hear someone put their exclusive "got it first" playlist on shuffle and say their name a whole bunch of times over songs, listen to a Mick Boogie mixtape. That is, don't.

Instead, hear these new, improved, complete versions: You get a chance to ride out the end of "Do it to Death," with the sound of circusy whistles and the memories of Supastition and Rhymefest's guest verses escorting you as you exit the song. In mixtape format, the Phonte and Tiye Phoenix duet "Too Late For Us"—boy loses girl and begs for girl back, girl doesn't want boy anymore, begs for boy to understand why not—would have easily been buried between the usual rappity-rap rigmarole, losing its affections and not proving as well as it does that Phonte can really write a love song.

Big Pooh doesn't want anything to do with soapy ballads here: It's finally clear that Pooh doesn't need his partner anymore. Even on this LP, which includes more than a dozen guest emcees, he can carry his own weight. Pooh has hinted at releasing at least three solo albums, which are either completed or nearing it. With Phonte's Foreign Exchange 2: Leave It All Behind due soon, there'll be more than enough work out there for both of these guys to be eating plenty, so long as they keep on feeding us what we need.

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