"Getback" can have a number of meanings. It could mean revenge, like in James Brown's "The Big Payback," a command for others to retreat, or simply a return to the familiar. North Carolina duo Little Brother, reportedly dismissed by BET for being "too intelligent," touch on all three with their third full-length album,Getback. They exact intellectual revenge on detractors, call out wackness and "get back" to a place they never ventured far from to begin with--rhymes about true life.
Getting Back to Basics
Big Pooh and Phonte blaze through hot topics like the N-word, the lack of insightful content in mainstream hip-hop, and the hypocrisy of the genre's critics who blame it for everything from crime to misogyny. While these topics are not new, Pooh and Tay nimbly addresses them without rehashing what listeners already know. Throughout Getback, the Southern MCs take their peers to task by appealing for better quality music while they implore their elders to take another listen. The opening track, "Sirens," packs some lyrical punches, "Like before Kool Herc everything was alright/like y'all wasn't calling black women h*es before 'Rapper's Delight.'"
Getting Back to Reality
Getback's first single, "Good Clothes," succeeds as an everyman tune that describes the role of attire as a defining factor in life events and choices. The track is not just about gettin' fly, it is a necessary departure from the materialistic, pro-designer, shameless clothing-line plugs that have clouded hip-hop of the past decade. They've brought it down to earth, but they're definitely not haters, showing respect to fellow MCs who demonstrate comparable lyrical prowess. Lil' Wayne, for example, contributes a tight verse to "Breaking My Heart" as the only well-known guest on Getback.
Getting Back Home
Little Brother shakes off the conscious rapper label with frank talks about relationships, spittin' game to women (and what happens when it backfires), along with the lack of love from even fellow N.C. natives who are still sleeping on them. One of the most refreshing aspects of this album is the absence of the contrived 'girl song'. Little Brother touches male-female issues head-on with "Step it Up," reminding fellas that it's worthwhile to try a little harder to impress women. "That Ain't Love" talks about what love shouldn't be, in romantic love and in love for music. The success of a song like this comes in the ability to refrain from pretending to have all the answers; it is simply an exchange of experiences. The closing track, "When Everything is New" is an appropriate ending, highlighting the subtle funk extended instrumental in the production.
The Bottom Line on Getback
Musically, Little Brother's sound is a highly-listenable combination of jazzy horns, violins, rolling drums and Raphael Saddiq-like vocals from guest singers. Lyrically, they're a throwback to everyday scenarios, a la A Tribe Called Quest, though managing to not sound like something you've already heard. Getback is also an album in the same vein of some of this year's better releases, like Common's Finding Forever, and Kanye West's Graduation, by offering a compact collection of tracks--one song shy of a dozen--and no superfluous extras. The brief, humorous and pointed skits are woven through the music. As Little Brother is still striving to get more recognition for their skills, this is clearly the best way to get their point across.
Go out and get Getback.