The Listening

ABB Records
Release date
25 Feb 2003
Running length
18 tracks
Running time


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    Track     Duration Listeners
1 Morning 1:11 45,473
2 Groupie Pt. 2 2:58 22,197
3 For You 3:03 41,412
4 Speed 3:57 43,244
5 Whatever You Say 5:26 44,452
6 Make Me Hot 1:36 25,554
7 The Yo-Yo 3:34 26,649
8 Shorty On The Lookout 5:23 33,618
9 Love Joint Revisited 3:38 32,021
10 So Fabulous 4:42 32,949
11 The Way You Do It 4:31 44,466
12 Roy Lee, Producer Extraordinaire 0:58 9,795
13 The Getup 3:16 34,202
14 Away From Me 5:22 24,842
15 Nobody But You 4:27 24,845
16 Home 2:48 33,409
17 Nighttime Maneuvers 3:02 23,261
18 The Listening 6:06 25,170

About this album

The Listening is the debut album of North Carolina trio Little Brother. It was released in early 2003 on ABB Records. The album became a surprise word-of-mouth sensation among underground rap fans, despite its lack of promotion, guest appearances, or extensive distribution.

As the main producer for the group, 9th Wonder’s instrumentals consist of chopped and manipulated samples of old soul records, somewhat reminiscent of Pete Rock and DJ Premier. Complimenting the backdrops are MC’s Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh with their tag-team wordplay and raps. On “Speed”, they talk about the pressures of working a regular job while trying to survive in the rat race, while on “Make Me Hot”, they make fun of people who hassle them for beats and studio time. They also do some uncanny impressions of old school era MC’s on “So Fabulous”.

The underlying theme of The Listening concerns the group’s effort to engage their listeners on a deeper level, and their frustration at casual listeners who pay little attention to lyrics and content and simply want to hear a “hot song”. The interludes are performed by the members of a fictional radio station called WJLR (Justus League Radio). On the last song called “The Listening”, the group address the album’s main theme head on, at one point abruptly stopping the song, exchanging dialogue concerning said song, and then restarting again, which in effect creates a song within a song.

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