Damn. Time flies when you recap music from your past. 2005 was an inspiring year for me. Plus this, among other albums, fell in my lap. Little Brother’s 2005 cult classic “The Minstrel Show”, to ME, represented a new era of music where it was cool to rap about certain things. There were a lot of messages in the music they put out, especially on this album. Hip Hop junkies, like I am, would love to see a reunion. But then again, I also wonder if you would see the work they have now with Te’ and Foreign Exchange, 9th Wonder and his Jamla imprint, and Pooh on Mellow Music Group. Dope read from Jerry Barrow. Peace to watchLOUD.
NAMING IT “THE MINSTREL SHOW”
9TH WONDER: The album title was originally supposed to be “Nigga Music.” Yeah. We knew they weren’t gonna go for that. And we knew The Minstrel Show was gonna be a stretch. But everybody is still talking about what we named the album 10 years later. We were ahead of the curve with that. It can help but it can also hurt. We were speaking on things and we saw that rappers were becoming caricatures of themselves. Your region didn’t matter.
PHONTE: Looking back on it of course hindsight is always 20/20. I think that we made the best record that we knew how to at that time. I think that we could have played it a lot safer and not from the point of content, but from the packaging. If we had called it something real generic and had the same music we may not have rubbed as many people the wrong way, or caught as much flack. It would have been an easier pill to swallow. But I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t backtrack on it. I just see now more that it was a gamble.
BIG POOH: This is something we said years ago, but I think it was a thing where people didn’t want to hear that message from us. Because Nas came out a little while after us saying hip-hop was dead. And on top of that they perceived it to be something that it wasn’t. Seeing the title people already had perceptions of it being this and that. And then when they actually heard the album we wasn’t really talking about none of that. We were just giving an example of what hip-hop could be or should be, as opposed to what it is. We just had to go through a bunch of explaining and I remember thinking that if you constantly have to explain things to people you didn’t do a good enough job of explaining what we were going for, so that brought people coming out asking “are you talking about me?”
RECORDING THE ALBUM
9TH WONDER: I was just off of going in the studio with Jay Z and Destiny’s Child so I was trying to expand or make my beats sound bigger, but still stay me. I was put into this place where I was new but I was considered a throwback producer. So making it sound bigger than stuff before and I was thinking how can I continue to make people feel good but producers can respect it. That was what I wanted to achieve for myself. I wanted producers to respect it without people needing a thesaurus to listen to it.
BIG POOH: My thinking was that I wanted to do a record that showed improvement from the first record to the second. We started working on this record before we were even signed to Atlantic, so I wasnt’ trying to [step up] because I was on a major. I was out to prove that I could hold my own in this group.
PHONTE: The funny thing was after MS came out me and Pooh did Get Back and so many of our fans were like ‘man this is the record they should’ve made on Atlantic.’ But who is to say we’d still have that foundation if we had made the “safe” record the first time out? Not that I think Get Back was a safe record by any means. But coming from The Listening going directly to Get Back on a major label, we’d have been done. All our credibility would have been gone. “Aww these dudes done gone major and hooked up with Denaun Porter and Hi-Tek.” It would have been dead in the water before it got off the ground. Looking back do I see flaws in The Minstrel Show? Sure. But I think that was the best record we could have made at the time. More so than it being a great record I think it made a great statement. I appreciate it more for the statement it made than the music that’s on it. When I go back and revisit it all I hear is mistakes. It gets agonizing listening to your old shit. I was reading an interview with Joss Whedon and he was talking about how doing Avengers, all he’s seeing [are flaws] and to me that shit was lit like a motherfucker. That struck a chord with me. But the statement of three guys coming from an independent label and going to the majors and your first record on a major is an indictment of the system of hip-hop and major labels? I mean, shit. How many [people] can pull that hat trick off?
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