By Daniel Paiz
“One thing you need to know about coming to a Little Brother show, is that this is Rap…over…40.”
Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh and DJ Flash tore the Summit Denver music venue down this Friday night with “Grown Man Rap Music” that had every single person moving. Phonte sang like Percy Miracles might not be dead. Rapper Big Pooh spew verses with a purpose only matched by his rapper in crime. There was a lot to take in at this show, but let’s jump right into it.
Grown Rap music starts with the DJs
There wasn’t a lot of fanfare at this show. By the time this LB fan showed up just after 9pm, the opening DJ was nearing the end of his warm-up set, playing numerous 80s and 90s hits. Soon, the veteran who has spun and worked with numerous artists DJ Flash took over the tables and went through a brief Hip-Hop history lesson. To be fair, I almost didn’t have enough prerequisites for the foray into Slick Rick, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious B.I.G and countless others.
It is absolutely the DJ’s job to warm up the crowd, get everyone paying attention, and to ask them repeatedly if they’re ready. Flash’s dizzying live test of Hip-Hop hit differently: you could feel the subtle yet increased level of crowd preparedness for Little Brother. This roomful of fans was pulsating.
Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh
Alas, if you are like a good friend of mine who denies it’s a Little Brother show if 9th Wonder isn’t there, then you too would have missed out on an amazing performance. DJ Flash stepped in nicely for 9th Wonder. Also I’ll remind you that Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh have had solo careers after the initial Little Brother split-up; these men can rap.
Phonte is a storyteller with bars to go and singing chops few other rappers possess. Phonte knows what his wheelhouse is and he mixes it up well. Big Pooh knows how to compliment Phonte’s verses (and vice versa) while delivering his lines like every album was just recorded for the first time. There’s a reason this tour happened.
Sure, if you didn’t know already, this isn’t the original trio despite efforts made otherwise. 9th Wonder will always be a part of Little Brother. This tour is still a Little Brother tour, and it felt like what I would have expected when this group was last in Denver in 2009.
I could gush a handful of adjectives about tonight’s performance. Electric. Funny. Fluid.
Mature. Honest. Headnodic. Responsive. Deliberate. You likely get the picture from said descriptors. There are genuinely some artists who put on a show, and afterwards you are nodding your head up and down in relief that you made it to that show. Perhaps LB comes through again. Perhaps not. Either way if you were in attendance like I was, then you might be thinking you made the right decision. I categorically know I did. Hear are some wise parting words from Phonte speaking on Grown Up Rap Music and its appeal:
“Little Brother makes music for people who have shit to do. You come to have a good time, and you take your ass home.”