Phonte (Little Brother) - conducted by Phayde  

Phonte (Little Brother)

February 2003

Little Brother hail from North Carolina, and have been highly credited for bringing back "real" hip-hop, even being compared the likes of ATCQ and The Roots.

MVRemix: To start off, just for the record, how did you come up with the name Little Brother?

Phonte: The name Little Brother was just, um, it just means, the artists we grew up listening to, you know, I'm saying the Tribe, De La, P.E., you know what I'm saying... they were like our big brothers in the game so now we are the little brothers of that movement. They were like our big brothers in the game, now they got a little brother following in their footsteps and carrying on the tradition of good music.

MVRemix: It says in your bio that the three of you met in 1998 while attending North Carolina Central University. How exactly did you guys discover that you all had that mutual passion for hip-hop?

Phonte: Just from hanging out, you know what I'm saying? I met 9th (Wonder) in '98 and he was carrying a Source magazine, and so I asked to see it. We were just looking at it and saw that we liked a lot of the same cats so we just formed a bond from there. A couple of weeks later I met (Big) Pooh, you know what I'm saying, and I spit a rhyme that I had written earlier that day and he thought it was dope so we just hooked up from there. And basically, you know, just a friendship-type thing where we just shared a common interest.

MVRemix: Okay, well being relatively new to the scene, what do you feel Little Brother has to offer to modern-day hip-hop?

Phonte: Um, I think the main thing we have to offer is just straight, no-frills music, you know what I'm saying? We are the exact same people that you hear about on record, that you hear on the album. We're the exact same people; you know what I'm saying? We're just trying to have fun, you know? We're just real down to earth so we try to put that in our music. We take our music, but we don't take ourselves seriously, you know what I'm saying? I think a lot of the problem with hip-hop is like, cats they really take it too seriously and don't really have no fun with it, so we just want to bring some fun back to the game.

MVRemix: Definitely, that's long overdue. How would you describe Little Brother's style to those who may never have heard of you?

Phonte: Soulful. You know what I'm saying? Funky. And fun. Just those three words. A lot of "underground" rap I think is just kinda soulish; you know what I'm saying? It's like there's a lot more style... well not necessarily style, but more technique over emotion, you know what I'm saying? A lot of mother fuckers out there can rap, and can say dope shit, but you know, there's no real emotion behind it. So with us, we just wanna bring the soul back into it, you know? The meaning of the music. Having soulful music and soulful production, and also just soulful rhymes. You know, meaning you listen to our rhymes and you hear us as people, you know what I'm saying? It's like, 'Ok, I get it.' You walk away from the album with a better understanding of who Pooh and Phonte are as people. So that's how I would describe our sound.

MVRemix: That's dope. How do you feel about the whole "ATCQ comparisons" and "save hip hop" labels people are placing on you?

Phonte: It's cool. I mean, you know. A lot of people think it puts pressure on you or whatever, but you know, we just gonna keep doing the music we gotta do, you know what I'm saying? And you know, whatever people want to call it, it's cool. As far as the Tribe comparisons, we welcome that because you know Tribe was a big part of our foundation. We grew up listening to that shit, you know what I mean? So uh, you know, it's fine. We don't have a problem with it. As long as I'm being compared to legends, then fuck it, you know what I mean?

MVRemix: Yeah I feel ya. So who else are you feeling out of North Carolina that won't spin a shirt over their head like a helicopter?

Phonte: I like Petey (Pablo). People kinda get the wrong idea, but I mean I do actually like Petey, you know what I'm saying? He's got a good club style of rap. He's a funny mother fucker too; you're gonna have to interview him or whatever, or meet him. He's a funny ass dude. He adds a lot of personality to the game. So I fuck with Petey. Also, of course our team the Justus League, that goes without saying. My man Supastition. He's real dope, he's got a record out.

MVRemix: Yeah, 7 Years of Bad Luck.

Phonte: Yeah, 7 Years of Bad Luck. He's real dope.

MVRemix: What would you say your biggest challenge was, trying to put this album out?

Phonte: The biggest challenge, I guess, was... I don't know. As far as putting it out, I mean, we can't really say there was a challenge because from the jump, our overall plan was, 'yo, we're gonna do this ourselves,' you know? We turned the album in to ABB; it was done. By the time ABB came and hollered at us, the album had been done for like 3-4 months already, you know what I'm saying? So it wasn't really a challenge in getting it out, thank God. Luckily, we found a label that believed in our vision and wasn't asking us to compromise nothing because we damn sure weren't gonna compromise nothing, you know? The album's done, motherfucker, this is it. So we found a label that believed in that and we didn't really have a problem with getting it out. Doing the album was a lot of work, but getting it out wasn't too bad.

MVRemix: Tell me about the Justus League.

Phonte: The Justus League is our crew. That's our fam, of eight emcees and four producers. The emcees are - (someone in the background yells "Hi!") Oh word up. Nah, we riding through this town in Virginia man. We been here for 20-30 minutes we just saw two black people. No actually, we saw one black person! We waved at his ass.

MVRemix: Uh, back to the Justus League.

Phonte: Yeah, back to Justus League though, Justus League is, as I said, eight emcees and four producers. The emcees are myself, Big Pooh, my man Cesar Comanche, who also has a record out, [entitled] Paper Gods, and you can check it at his website Uh, Cesar Comanche, Median, L.E.G.A.C.Y., Sean Boog, Chaundon, and Floe. Then the four producers are 9th Wonder, Big Doh, Eccentric and Yorel. We all met running the same circles in our area, going to freestyle battles, going to shows, and you just see the same cats all the time. So it's like, yo, we just kinda formed a bond. I guess that was in like '99. And so you know, just a team of cats.

MVRemix: Alright, so production-wise, I gotta say that 9th Wonder is absolutely incredible. I know he relies heavily on computers to create beats, but specifically, what equipment/programs does he use to produce?

Phonte: The programs we use are Cool Edit Pro and Fruity Loops. Those are the two programs that we use, and that's what we did the whole album on.

MVRemix: Personally speaking, I think regardless of what you create beats on, it's the finished product that really matters, and The Listening's is absolutely incredible. But what do you have to say to people out there that are quick to criticize computer-generated beats?

Phonte: Yeah... All beats are computer generated, man, you know what I'm saying? 9th had caught some slack from motherfuckers who are like, 'Oh, he's on a computer,' you know. Man, all beats are computer-generated, nigga. Unless you playing every goddamn instrument by hand, and you know, playing bongos and shit, all beats are computer-generated. An MPC is just a computer in a box, you know what I'm saying? The SP1200 is just a computer in a box. It has a hard drive, it has memory, you know what I'm saying? So that's the thing. The only thing that matters is the end product. When I first met 9th and found out that he made beats on the computer, I was more amazed than anything. I was just like, 'I just wanna see how you do it.' And then I saw how he did it and I was like, 'Yo man, stick with what you do.' You know? As long as me and Pooh, as long as we believe in his beats then other cats can say whatever the fuck they wanna say.

MVRemix: Alright, cool. On a lighter tip, I'm gonna play a little word association game with you right now. I'm gonna say a word and I want you to say the first thing that comes to mind, okay?

Phonte: Word association game? Alright, let's do this.

MVRemix: You pumped for this?

Phonte: Yeah, let's go.

MVRemix: Alright. 50 cent.

Phonte: 50 cent? Hilarious. Fucking funny. Very entertaining.

MVRemix: Underground.

Phonte: Underground? Uh... overrated! [laughs]

MVRemix: Overrated? That's ironic.

Phonte: [Phonte looks out the window at a woman] Ohhhh, no bro, I saw the look in her eye! I saw the look in her eye, nigga! I saw it! I saw! I ain't lying!

MVRemix: Hmmm...

Phonte: Nah, sorry, I saw this girl... she was walking... and she looked at the van and kinda smiled and shit. Yeah, I see that look in her eye... she sees something she likes over here. I saw that shit.

MVRemix: [Laughs] Alright, interview, buddy!

Phonte: Oh yeah, well, I just saw, ya know. I saw that, that's all. Go ahead.

MVRemix: Alright. Commercial.

Phonte: Commercial? Uh... underrated! Hell, fuck it! [Laughs]

MVRemix: Okay. Joe Millionaire.

Phonte: Joe Millionaire? Dry as fuck! I mean, come on, man! That dude's personality? Come on, man! That nigga has the charisma of a fucking brick, man!

MVRemix: [Laughs] Yeah, I feel ya. Dumb as hell, man.

Phonte: You know who I really liked? That Melissa girl. She had a great smile, great personality. My God, that shit sucked. That shit sucked so bad.

MVRemix: Okay... Jennifer Lopez.

Phonte: Jennifer Lopez? Fat ass. Hell, what else is there? Don't sing! How about that? Stop singing! Stop singing, stop acting, just... yo... you know what I'm saying? Just be a goddamn booty dancer.

MVRemix: [Laughs] George Bush.

Phonte: George Bush? Oh my God... Uh... George Bush... Fuck, man. I don't know. Fuck up. Gonna lead this country into fucking ruins.

MVRemix: Michael Jackson.

Phonte: Michael Jackson? Aw, he's such a freak. Very talented, you know what I'm saying, a legend, but man, come on, yo... dude ain't right, man. Joe Jackson fucked that dude up. Joe Jackson really scarred Mike out there.

MVRemix: Yeah I feel ya.

Phonte: Joe got Mike shook out there in the game, that's all it is. You know it's the real deal when one nigga get beat and the whole house collapses!

MVRemix: Eminem.

Phonte: Eminem? He's a dope emcee. Dope.

MVRemix: Little Brother.

Phonte: Little Brother? Uh... disposable. We'll be gone in a year. One-hit wonders.

MVRemix: Oh come on!

Phonte: I'm serious. I'm dead serious.

MVRemix: You really think that? Why is that? I mean, with all the attention... and your album's not even out yet...

Phonte: In a year it's gonna be over, man. We already got it planned out. We already got our behind-the-music joint planned out. You know what I'm saying? In another year we're gonna quit due to creative differences. 9th is gonna go on to produce gospel plays, Big Pooh is gonna become a Mormon, and fucking, you know, I'm gonna direct pornographic films. That's basically the plan. Little Brother's gonna be over in a year tops. Enjoy The Listening cuz that's it. It's over. [laughs]

MVRemix: You know I'm gonna see you blowing up in a year and I'll have words with you!

Phonte: Yeah, yeah, you can talk to me about it. It's cool.

MVRemix: Can we expect any videos from you guys?

Phonte: Uh, I don't know. Honestly, we probably won't have any videos for this first record. I don't know, of course, that changes. As of right now, no. [Looking out the window again] Man, this nigga's out here practicing the trombone and shit... Hell no, this nigga's coming out here with a Virginia Tech sweatshirt on, playing the damn slide trombone. Man, you have got to be kidding me! [Laughs] Listen to this nigga, listen!

[Unimpressive trombone playing]

MVRemix: [Laughs] Who the hell is that?

Phonte: Just some student! He just straight made an entrance! Came outta nowhere!

MVRemix: Alright, last thing: anything you want to say to current or prospective fans out there?

Phonte: Anything I want to say to what?

MVRemix: Current or prospective fans.

Phonte: Current or prospective what?

MVRemix: FANS! Anything you want to say to FANS!

Phonte: Anything I want to say to fans? Uh, thank you so much for supporting us, you know what I'm saying. We really appreciate it. Thanks for listening. Buy the album. If you got a copy of the album, buy another copy for the car. If you got a copy for the car, buy another copy for the bathroom. Got one for the car and bathroom, buy one for the living room. You know what I'm saying? Buy some copies, pass them out to some little kids, you know what I'm saying... on the street. Just keep supporting us. As long as you keep supporting us we'll keep making dope shit. Thanks a lot for the support, we really appreciate it. We feel blessed.

MVRemix: Alright, and you know I'll be talking to you again next year!

Phonte: I'm telling you, in a year it's gonna be over! Like I said, 9th is gonna produce gospel plays. He's currently talking to Alexander O'Neil to star in a gospel play. And then, uh, Pooh, he's gonna do some charity work at the prison for the blind. And it's over. And I will go on to produce pornographic films! Like I said! And Little Brother will be done!

MVRemix: You gonna play hip-hop in your films?

Phonte: Yeah! The first one I'm starring in is gonna be Mighty Joe Hung. That's gonna be my first joint. Then Forest Hump, that's gonna be my second. Then it's gonna be a trilogy... the third one's just gonna be called The Firm. Just Firm. Firm. Yeah, nigga. That's what I'm gonna do. Then we're gonna do a throwback joint on DVD called Bone With The Wind. 'Oh yeah, Scarlet.. Smack my ass, Scarlet! Just tickle my balls right now, just tickle them with a feather.' [Laughs] Are you recording that all on tape, yo?

MVRemix: Uh... do you want it to be?

Phonte: You gonna sell it on E-Bay or something?

MVRemix: Definitely. Infomercials and all. 900 numbers.

Phonte: Yeah, no doubt.

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