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Little Brother

"I came back from NY, nigga lost his deal/Felt sick to the stomach, almost lost his meal," Phonte raps on Getback's first track, "Sirens." He's referring to his duo Little Brother's exit from Atlantic Records after sales of its major-label debut, The Minstrel Show, failed to meet expectations. Getback was instead released on indie ABB Records — which also put out the group's heralded 2003 debut, The Listening — and it's surely a much stronger record for it. It's largely a personal reflection on the past year's events, which includes the duo's parting ways with producer 9th Wonder. Musically, the album could have used more of 9th's seamless, soul-influenced beats; he produces only one song here, "Breakin' My Heart," which, like every other recent track in the universe, also features Lil Wayne. But while predictable subjects like clothes and infidelity pop up, songs like "Can't Win for Losing" — in which Big Pooh raps "[E]verybody changed overnight, when the numbers came back light" — express a vulnerability rarely heard in hip-hop. We've heard about the excitement that comes with getting signed to a major deal a thousand times. Finally, we get the other side of the story.

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