I'm good man. Just working, a lot of work.
Wonder: I've been pretty good man. Just been trying to hang in there,
right now it's the calm before the storm.
do you feel about the way "The Minstrel Show" came out?
Wonder: I'm pleased with the way the album came out. We needed to show
growth from "The Listening," and at the same time not lose our
core fans. We didn't want to come out and make a totally different record,
but we wanted to make a statement, and I'm pleased with the way it came
I'm proud of it man. I'm real proud of it. Right now we're all ready for
the world to hear it.
your favorite track off "The Minstrel Show?"
I really like "All for You." That's definitely my most personal
track on the album, just talking about being an absentee parent and dealing
with that. That's a real personal joint for me and I think it's something
that a lot of cats are going to relate to today.
My favorite track is "Beautiful Morning." This is the first
song on the album and it signifies a new beginning to me, everything about
this song says brand new. I start off "Open my eyes to a new day/
spread my wings/ taking shots of the Crown niggas going through things..."
It catches you up on Little Brother since the last time you heard from
us for our past listeners and explains where we came from for the new
kind of beats did you want to give Pooh and Phonte for "The Minstrel
Wonder: I have a stash of beats that are Little Brother beats. We're trying
to forge our own sound. There are beats that are only for Little Brother.
What I do is I give them a gang-load of beats and they pick what they
want, and that's how that gets jumped off. I make a lot of beats that
I feel are Little Brother compatible, and then they go through those.
the difference between a Little Brother beat and a Jay-Z or Buckshot beat?
Wonder: All Little Brother beats are real melodic. You can either rap
or sing the hook. All of our beats contain melody. It's not like it's
a flat sound with no melody. A lot of the things I do with other cats
don't have a lot of melody, and if they do, it's not always a constant
melody like a Little Brother beat.
did you guys come up with the title "The Minstrel Show?"
That's crazy man. It's funny because we wanted to use that title, then
we didn't want to. We had just wanted to come up with a name that showed
how fed up we were with the things going on in music. We had wanted to
call it "Nigga Music," just to grab people's attention. That
wouldn't have worked due to obvious reasons. But we just kicked around
other names and we came up with "The Minstrel Show." And what
we want to do is bring back balance in the music. On every radio station
and every video station, you're only hearing one kind of music. You're
hearing 50 Cent, or niggas that want to be like 50, or Lil' Jon and niggas
that want to be Lil' Jon, or Snoop and niggas trying to be like Snoop.
And then you will hear a Kanye or Common every blue moon. That's not balance.
And that can work both ways. I wouldn't want to hear Kanye or Common all
day. But right now, all you get is one side of Black culture and life.
And then you have people who see 50 Cent, Snoop, and Lil' Jon doing it
big, and they think that's what they have to do to make it big. They might
not have sold drugs, got shot, or get crunk, but that's what they do instead
of being themselves. And that's where "The Minstrel Show" comes
in, where in the late 1800's and 1900's where White people would paint
their faces black, and later Black people would paint their faces black.
The new blackface is guns, drugs, jewelry, and pimping. That's the new
blackface, and that's why we ran with the title "The Minstrel Show."
Wonder: That's how rap is today. People are afraid to be themselves. They
don't think that being themselves will catapult them to the next level.
They want to be a 50, they want to be a Common, they want to be a Kanye
West. People are afraid to be themselves because they think people don't
want to listen to them being themselves. So that's where "The Minstrel
Show" comes from because they're putting on an act, they're putting
on a show, of being something they're not.
parts of rap would you say are a minstrel show?
Wonder: There's a lot of grotesqueness. People are really down-playing
the music part. It's more "I got this, I got that." It's like
a Hip Hop starter kit. You need a couple chains, you need big rims, but
none of that is going to teach you how to rap or make beats. And we're
not knocking people that wear chains, because one day one of us might
buy a chain. But if we do, I guarantee you that it won't be because somebody
else got one. It's not about that. People are really just losing focus
on the music and they're putting their focus on material things and putting
music on the backburner.
you think any rappers will take offense at the album title?
Wonder: No. I think it's a situation where if the shoe fits, wear it.
We're not saying that you shouldn't wear a chain. But there's some people
out there perpetrating, and they know they're perpetrating, and the industry
knows they're perpetrating. And they shouldn't be. There's only one G-Unit,
let them be G-Unit. Nobody's harder than G-Unit right now. The streets
belong to G-Unit right now. And it seems like people go to great lengths
to prove they're harder than G-Unit and 50 Cent, and all of that energy
takes away from the music. Come on man, we're talking about 50 Cent, he's
a music mogul, you can't compete with that dude. And that goes for trying
to compete with 50, trying to compete with Ludacris, trying to compete
with T.I, trying to compete with Paul Wall, trying to compete with Lil'
Jon, instead of focusing on the music. And if anyone takes offense to
it, they take offense to it.
people ready for that message?
You don't know unless you ask them. You never know what people are ready
for until you present them with that option and present that question
to them. I think they're ready for it, that's why Kanye and Common sold
what they sold. A better question is "is the industry ready for it?"
Are they ready to allow balance to come back to the music? Are the consumers
ready? I'm pretty sure 50 Cent doesn't listen to himself all day. He's
from Queens, he probably listens to Tribe and De La Soul. But people have
to allow for it to happen. You have to ask the people if they're ready,
and if they are, then support it. Don't just support Little Brother, support
other acts that aren't necessarily talking about guns and drugs. That's
what "The Minstrel Show" is about.
do you want to give fans with this album?
Another piece of me. Every song we do, we tell stories of our life. And
hopefully people look at that and see what we went through and see where
we're going, and hopefully they take something from that, whatever they
can take. We're not standing on a soapbox or preaching to anybody saying
you should do this and do that. We're just giving people pieces of our
life, and all I can ask is that people come away from this album with
a greater understanding of who I am and who Little Brother is, and that
"The Minstrel Show" continues what Kanye started, and that's
bringing a balance back to music.
you have any problems with Atlantic over the music you could make?
Wonder: No, not at all man. This is what they signed us for. They signed
us because they believed in our vision. And a lot of people that get signed
don't have a vision and they want to be babysat by the label. We refuse
to be babysat by a label. We want to do it ourselves, and they believe
The only thing that really changed with us is knowing what samples to
stay away from. When we recorded on ABB, we didn't give a fuck about what
we sampled. We didn't have to worry about clearances on anything. But
being with the majors, we have to clear everything. So we had to know
what artists to stay away from, what artists would charge you an arm and
a leg and your first-born child to clear a sample, and what artists would
or course charge but keep it moderate. That was the big thing with making
this album as opposed to making "The Listening." We still went
about it the same way, we still did it in North Carolina. We still did
it without motherfuckers telling us what to do. There are limited guest
appearances on there, it's not a compilation, it's a Little Brother album.
And we got out fam on there. That's what we told Atlantic when we signed:
"This is what brought us to your attention, allow us to continue
that." And Atlantic is allowing us to continue. If it ain't broke,
why fix it?
was it mixing the album at Baseline?
It was good man. Young Guru is one of the biggest supporters of us. He's
a real good dude, and he's very generous. He definitely has an ear for
what he's doing and he's very good at his craft. He took our album and
really did his thing. He's a real good dude. He treated this album like
"these are my niggas." He treated this album like it was his
album, not just a job.
That whole process isn't really my thing, but I was there because they
needed two of us in case any press came through. Being in Baseline was
dope, Just Blaze was making beats and I would stick my head in and listen
to what he was doing, he's got some fire!
would you compare "The Minstrel Show" to "The Listening?"
It's a whole 'nother world for me. When we did "The Listening,"
I was still in school, we were working, and I was still getting my feet
wet as far as music was concerned. I was learning how to make songs. Knowing
how to rap and how to make a song is two different things. And you look
at all these mixtape niggas that you never hear from again, that's because
niggas don't know how to make songs. I was learning, and I was learning
so much so fast. And I sat back and learned a lot, and observed a lot
when we made "The Listening," and it was fun. That's how it
was recoding "The Listening," it was fun. Niggas ain't have
no deadlines, no label. It was just us in the room. We were recording
tracks with eight or nine people in room, and we had no booth, so we'd
have to be like "shhhh, we're about to record." And if you listen
real closely, you can hear people in the background. It was just whatever
with that album, it was free-spirited and free-willing. We were making
the type of music we wanted to hear ourselves. But when you look at "The
Minstrel Show," we wanted to say something to the people and catch
their attention. We started making this album back in December, 2003.
One of the first tracks was the single "Lovin' It." That's the
first track we recorded for the label. That was around the time when we
were going through our label situation, getting our ABB deal reworked
and trying to get to Atlantic. And being in limbo, we had to put a pause
on production, because once we'd get to Atlantic, we have to clear samples,
and we had to be mindful of that. And everyone came out of different situations
before we started recording "The Minstrel Show." I had just
finished "Sleepers," Phonte had done "Foreign Exchange,"
and 9th had done Jay-Z, Destiny's Child, Murs, and everything he did.
We had all grown musically. When I went and made my album, I learned how
to make it on my own. I didn't have any of them watching me. I came back
like "I know how to make an album now." Phonte was coming back
from doing the Foreign Exchange more focused and ready to experiment more.
And 9th was out cultivating his sound, and he came back glad to be back
with his group that laid the foundation for everything he had done since.
There was more input from us this time around, instead of one or two people
taking control, so that halted some of the work, because we're all grown
men. And people will tell you, the three of us are very opinionated. And
it's also older and being more mature. When we finished this record, I
exhaled hard, because we were able to get so much out, and we just made
a more focused and more mature record, and I think people will hear that
when they hear the record.
Wonder: It's darker than "The Listening." "The Listening"
sounded like three guys happy to be making music and happy to be making
an album. Phonte and Pooh did state problems on "The Listening,"
but it's not like the problems stated on "The Minstrel Show,"
and it's not problems stated in the rap game but it's problems in everyday
life. And a lot of things have happened since "The Listening,"
and it's all in "The Minstrel Show."
your fans expect a certain sound from you?
To be honest with you, I really don't know what fans expect from Little
Brother these days. It's funny, me and a couple people were talking about
this. We put out the first single "Lovin' It" to reconnect with
our fans and show them we haven't changed, and the fans I think expected
us to do something different, being we're on a major label now. You never
know what the fans expect. The reaction so far has been way more positive
than negative. I don't know what they can expect, but all I can do is
keep giving them music and hoping that they love it and allow me to progress,
and follow my progression musically, and keep giving them good music and
dope music. I hope all they expect from Little Brother is dope music.
And if that's all they expect, that's what we're going to strive to give
I think they do. I think that they expect us to do it a certain way. But
that's off of the first album. When "The Minstrel Show" comes
around, they'll see our transition. There'll be certain things we'll always
stick too, like sampling. Sampling is what we do, we sample records and
chop shit up. When people come to us, they look for a Hip Hop record,
and that's what we'll give them.
have you grown since "The Listening?"
Just a lot of different life experiences. I got married, we're about to
have another little boy. I've grown a lot as a man. I got to see the world,
I've been to countries that I could never find on a map. Also, I've seen
a lot more of the good side of the game, and some bad things. And instead
of that turning me away, it brought me closer to Hip Hop. You can get
caught up in the business, and the business is so shitty, I look at it
as God's way of keeping you focused. The industry is some bullshit, you've
always got to remain focused and remain true to what brought you there,
and that's the music itself. Over time, I've become more appreciative
to hearing a dope beat with dope lyrics. That's the only thing that keeps
me in it, my love for the music. That's the only thing that keeps me going.
do you guys go about making a song?
9th gives me and Pooh the tracks. We'll sit down and listen to the beats,
and we just go from there. Most of the time, I come up with the hooks
and the concepts. I'll say "let's try this." If Pooh has the
concept first, I'll write the hook around it. And after that we get in
the booth and lay it down.
you guys ever have any creative differences?
No, not really. We allow each other our creative space. And we realize
with Little Brother that it's a compromise on all ends. We're able to
do what we want on our solo projects. Like on Pooh's "Sleepers,"
it's more beats and rhymes where the Foreign Exchange was a lot more musical
and a lot more layered. It's just a difference. And we're aware of those
differences, and we embrace them, because that's what makes us Little
"The Chitlin Circuit 1.5" do what you wanted it to this summer?
Yeah. We put that out as a bridge just to let the fans know that we're
coming. Because we were all giving them music, but not Little Brother
music. So we went back to the lab and cooked up some more joints and put
some stuff on there that we had done awhile ago, and that built the bridge
from the old to the new.
do you feel listening to "The Listening" today?
Wonder: It sounds a little dated. We've all improved, as far as Phonte
and Pooh's rhymes and my beats. We've all made a big step going to the
next level. Things sound more urgent, more crisp. On "The Listening,"
we were happy making music, but this time, we want it to sound more professional
with the sound, with the beats, with the rhymes, more clean, and get it
ready for mainstream America.
It's something I'm still proud of. It's not something that I look back
on and I'm like "what the fuck?" I do have songs that I listen
to and I'm like "ehh." But "The Listening," I still
feel good about it and proud of it.
know you guys heard about what just went down at The Source
writer felt Little Brother's album deserved 4,5 Mics but the owners of
the magazine had the rating lowered)
Yeah, it's crazy. It's a part of the business, a part of the industry.
And in this business, you're swimming with sharks. If you know that ahead
of time, and you get bit by a shark, you can't be mad. It just comes with
the territory. It is what it is. I know we're going to still continue
to do our thing, and it's going to be what it's going to be. But that's
Hip Hop, that's what it is right now and this is the time that we live
you and Pooh used to write?
Yeah. I used to be a writer in college. I was an editor at the student
newspaper. I used to review albums. One of my homegirls, who ironically
still works for Atlantic, was their college rep back then. She would bring
me albums to review, and I would tell her "I ain't feeling this shit,
is it better for me to not say anything or write a bad review?" I
wasn't going to lie to people. When you're in a position when the editorial
staff can tell you what to write, or what not to write, that's kind of
crazy. It's a sad situation what happened at the Source. Fahiym made a
real big statement telling people "I don't give a fuck what y'all
are paying me, fuck this, y'all niggas are not going to tell me what to
believe in." Hopefully that statement will resonate and let the younger
generation see that you don't ever have to sell yourself short with certain
And as a writer, you don't want anyone to tell you what to write. With
Phonte as the editor, he let me say what I wanted to!
let's talk about production for a minute. What do you have to say to people
who say your beats are limited to that soul vibe?
Wonder: First, you have to look at what exactly what a soul record is.
I won't sample a soul record, but it will come out soulful. Pete Rock,
the number one soul brother, doesn't sample soul records but they come
out soulful. This is what I do. Nobody is saying that Pharrell can't go
outside that Triton keyboard. Nobody's saying that Lil' Jon can't stop
using those space-age sounds that he uses. It all boils down that your
Pharrell's and Lil' Jon's don't post on message boards. We post on message
boards and at okayplayer.com and the people at OkayPlayer get a chance
to speak their mind towards us and they know we read it. It's not like
before where if you didn't like Pete Rock or DJ Premier, you couldn't
get on a message board and tell them, you couldn't get on AOL Instant
Messenger and tell them. The kids know we read those. And the kids will
be like "I told 9th Wonder about himself on OkayPlayer.com."
I really don't care man, I really don't care. They say what they want
to say. It's all a dream for me. I'm happy, I'm doing what I want with
my life, and that's it.
you talk about the importance of your snare? I know you switch it up some
Wonder: It varies from record to record. I used a lot of different drums
on the "Murs 3:16" album. I use different drums for different
beats, but the thing about it is, everybody wants the same 9th Wonder
beat, so to speak. There's a gang-load of beats that have the same snare,
and if you have 50 MC's that want a beat like that, what can you do? You
can try to force a beat on someone, but if they don't want it then they
don't want it. They say "that's cool, but I want that classic 9th
Wonder sound," and that classic 9th Wonder sound does have that snare
in it. So that's what comes out, and if that's all that people can hear
from me, then what can I really do?
important is it to have certain things going on in the beat to identify
you as the producer?
Wonder: It's important. The samples that I use, the drums that I pick,
you still want people to know its you on the beat. That's how you make
yourself a household name. Jif Peanut Butter always tastes the same, and
it's still good. That's what I want to do. When the beat comes on, I want
them to know it's me. Not all the time, but often.
you still rocking the Fruity Loops?
you use anything with it?
Wonder: Just a turntable.
even a midi keyboard?
Wonder: No midi keyboard. I have never, not one time, successfully performed
in midi function. I don't use midi at all.
seems that producers who use Fruity Loops don't get the same respect as
producers rocking on MPC's
Wonder: I'm about the music. I really don't care. They said the same thing
about the MP's when they came out. They'd say certain things were cheating,
and now it's a staple. A lot of people that talk about Fruity Loops are
cats that had it on their computer and they couldn't use it, and now there's
cats coming along that can really use it. I'm not trying to drop names,
but when you've got cats that have been making beats for years and have
done a lot of big records tell me to continue to do what I do and don't
change up because someone on the internet said I'm cheating. And most
of the time, those dudes aren't getting a check! I am successfully feeding
my family and am doing what I want to do with my life off of a computer
program that somebody says sucks. Do you think I care? No! And a lot of
these kids don't understand about having a family because they're still
at home living with mommy and daddy. They say I'm not making real Hip
Hop, get out of here, they just started listening to Hip Hop in '98.
important has Pete Rock been to your career?
Wonder: I learned a lot from Pete. He's my inspiration man. I don't think
that all those credits get the credit they deserve on a mainstream level.
Pete Rock, Preem, the Bomb Squad, Marley Marl, Orgainized Noize, Marley
Marl, the Beatminerz, Diamond D, Easy Mo B
I want those great beatmakers
of the early '90's to get the credit they deserve, because if they didn't
do those beats, oh man, we'd be in trouble. We need to respect our elders
in Hip Hop.
guys have always paid tribute to the old school, whether through your
name, sampling, or your lyrics. How important is it to pay tribute to
musicians that came before you?
It's real important, because that's where it came from. That's your history.
You have to know your history before you can move forward. That's why
we pay homage to the old school. It's important for us to let cats know
that we love them, because if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be rhyming.
you ever think your remix project "God's Stepson" would start
the remixing craze that it did?
Wonder: Nah man. See, the beauty about living in North Carolina is that
there is family life and religion here. Hip Hop is a growing thing, but
it's not in the forefront. When you go to New York, music and fashion
are all on the forefront. When I started doing "God's Stepson,"
I was just doing it to do it. North Carolina kind of makes your do that.
I had one track, two tracks, and then I had 11. Then I decided "hey,
let me burn this on CD and let everyone hear it."
you have any remix projects coming up?
Wonder: No. I don't remix as much as I used to. I don't sit in the house
and do that anymore. If I really want to touch a song, then I'll do it,
but only because I want to, not for any other purpose.
"Murray's Revenge" with Murs coming?
Wonder: We're done. We've been done for a long time now. Murs is a good
friend of mine and it's always a learning experience doing an album with
him. We did a new one, some people will like it, some won't, but we had
a good time doing it. I don't know if we're going to do another one or
not, but I have fun doing records with Murs. It's a process, but at the
end we come out with some good music together. Phonte and Pooh tell me
that with all the outside projects I do, working with Murs comes out the
how was it for you working with Murs on "The Animal?"
He's a real good brother, a real good dude. At first, I wasn't really
familiar with him. I heard some of his stuff, but I didn't like the beats.
He came in and we kicked it. 9th had played me some of the joints they
were working on, and they were hot. I had told him about my idea for "The
Animal," how I wanted to make it an East Coast joint. I don't think
he got it at first, but the more I added to it, it made sense to him.
He's a hard worker. He wrote his verse on the spot. I really appreciate
cats that can do that. Sean Price is like that too. I just did a joint
with him a couple days ago. But Murs is a real good dude, that's family
was it getting down with Buckshot and Sean Price?
Wonder: It was a dream come true. We grew up listening to them. I had
their posters on the wall. I was in high school when they dropped "Who
Got Da Props." I remember riding around in high school looking for
that single. Then to actually work with the man who made that is crazy
to me. A lot of people like to say "please get off the early '90's,"
but it's not only Black Moon, it's the N.W.A.'s and all them. I saw Fat
Joe a couple weeks ago and I walked up to him and just said "Represent."
A lot of them need to hear that, for real. A lot of those big artists
need to hear that. Telling Ice Cube his record changed my life. Those
records from the early '90's were really life-changing, and the new ones
aren't really like that. With the older music, you can hear a song and
remember a friend. With new music, it's not really like that. Now, everyone
hears new music in the club. There's more to life than that. It's a dream
come true to work with these cats.
about working with Tru Life?
Tru Life "New York" joint came out of nowhere! I got a call
from Young Guru asking me if I did that beat. He said Tru Life did the
joint, so I talked to DJ Sickamore, who's a good dude, and he said they
did that record and it's blazing the streets of New York. I was like "wow,
a boy from North Carolina did a track that's blazing the New York streets."
I hope that's not my only track on his album.
you're working on a compilation as well?
Wonder: Yeah, it's called "Mr. Dream Merchant Volume 2." I feel
like all beatmakers need to do one to show the different sides of them.
you looking to get another track with Jay on there?
Wonder: Maaan, I wish! I haven't seen him enough to ask him. It would
be nice if he would do that, but he's running a record label now. I appreciate
what he's done for me thus far, and I definitely don't want to wear out
my welcome. When he comes around to get you, he comes around to get you!
do you want to work with next?
Wonder: Man, put this in caps. Will you put this in caps for me? GHOSTFACE
KILLAH. I have said in five million interviews that I want to do a joint
with Ghostface Killah. He's the number one rapper that I want to do a
jam with. I feel like from the history of his albums, "Ironman"
and "Supreme Clientele," I fit the mold of what he's looking
for. Ghostface Killah!
what was the biggest difference for you when you made "Sleepers"
as opposed to a Little Brother album?
The biggest difference is not having to take advice from nobody when I'm
doing me. I can ask for people's opinions, but at the end of the day it's
whatever I want it to be. When you work as a group, it's not about what
you want; it's what we all want. And we're like a democracy. It's perfect
because there's three of us, so we vote on what it's going to be. And
it's much easier for me working in a group because that's how I started
really learning and creating music. You've got people to bounce ideas
off, and we go back and forth to find out what works. When you work by
yourself, you bounce ideas off the wall to yourself. Those were the biggest
differences between me recording by myself and recoding with a group.
how was working as Foreign Exchange different than Little Brother?
It was me just branching out and trying to incorporate my other influences
and other types of music I listen to, like R&B and house music. That's
the main difference, just being able to work outside of the normal confinements.
being a family man change the way you write?
No, I wouldn't necessarily change the way I write, it just gives me another
thing to write about. In all of my records, I talk about myself whether
I talk about myself as an MC, or a dude that's tired of a job. Now, I
can write about Phonte the Married Man. I still have the same technique,
but now it's having another part of my life that I can talk about on record.
plans for a solo?
Not for me. I'm just focusing on building Little Brother and really doing
more Little Brother. I don't have any aspirations of doing a solo album.
All of my thoughts are in the Little Brother album, and I don't want to
waste people's time saying in an album what I could just say in two or
important has the internet been to your career?
It's been very, very, very important. It just helps to get your music
out to people that never would have gave it a chance. When we first came
into the game, we were coming from an indie label doing it ourselves,
we didn't have power to get it in the Tower Records and all that, so the
internet was our legs to get our music out.
all the fam in the J.U.S.T.U.S. League, is there potential for it to be
like an underground Wu?
It could be. We're not a group like Wu-Tang, we're not going to put out
a J.U.S.T.U.S. League album. I don't see that happening anytime soon.
I look at it more like the Dungeon Family, where we have a collective
of groups and people all working for the same ideas.
is Desi Relaford (shortstop for the Colorado Rockies) involved in the
Wonder: He fell in love with the music. He caught wind of the "9th
Wonder Invented the Remix" CD, and he found out who I was, and then
he found out about Phonte and Big Pooh, and then he found out L.E.G.A.C.Y
and the Away Team, and all the music that we have. He runs 6-Hole Records,
and he put out Pooh's "Sleepers" album, and he put out The Away
Team, and he put out L.E.G.A.C.Y.'s "Project Mayhem," and he's
putting out my album, "The Dream Merchant."
do fans get with your live show?
We give it our all. It's not just rapping to your beats. You can't let
people feel like they could have just stayed home and listened to the
album. You have to really be entertaining. I think a lot of MC's now have
taken that live show for granted, where they just spit and be out. You
can't just do it like that. The live show is really that shit that can
keep you paid.
it like being on the road with Little Brother?
We're just real laid-back dudes. None of us are doing drugs and getting
crazy and shit. We're pretty much just chilling. As for me, I'm just lounging,
trying to rest my voice as much as I can. When you're on the road, you
really don't have a lot of room for error, so you have to keep your shit
tight. We try to run our shit like a machine.
can you tell everyone about North Carolina?
North Carolina has a lot of heat. There's a lot of talented cats, and
North Carolina doesn't have one sound. You heard Petey Pablo, and that
was his version of North Carolina. North Carolina is considered South
because it's below the Mason-Dixon line. This is a college state, you
have Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, then you have a variety of Black
colleges all in a 45-minute range. There's North Carolina Central, the
school we all attended. You've got all these schools, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington.
You've got people coming from Cali, Texas, Minnesota, New York, Michigan,
D.C., and they bring what they listen to here. North Carolina is like
a big pot of gumbo, you can hear everything coming out of here. Every
individual has their own sound of what North Carolina is to them, and
that's how I like to look at it. I don't do crunk music, but I know people
here that do crunk music and might pop doing crunk music, and that's their
version of North Carolina. That's how I like to look at it.
have you learned in the industry so far?
This is a business. It's a lot of money out here. It's 10% music. You
have to get people around you that's willing to go hard for you, and know
what they're going hard for and know the business. You've got to get those
people around you. The faster you realize that this is a business, the
better off you'll be. I learned a lot. I learned that when you're on a
major label, there's more red tape than you think there is. There's checks
and balances for everything from album covers to clean versions of songs.
There's a person at the label who check clean versions of records. I was
like "are you serious?" There's so many people at the labels
that do things that you wouldn't think of. I didn't think that there was
actually a person to check clean versions of records. I was like "we
got a guy that did the clean edits by the same guy that did Jay-Z albums,
I'm pretty sure he knows what's clean and what's not clean."
guys have had co-signs from Questlove and Pete Rock, but you had to break
into the game on your own, how much more valuable does that make the experience?
People co-sign or tell us that they fuck with us, but we really don't
have any allies in this game. We didn't come in piggy-backing on nobody,
and we'll probably go out without piggy-backing on anybody. Just give
us our props, and give us our just due. People fuck with us not because
no one said to fuck with us, and that's the greatest thing for me. People
hopefully fuck with us because they like us, not because people told them
to like it. So looking at that, people vibing with us from the start have
seen us develop. They can see all of that. And for those that don't know
Little Brother, or haven't discovered Little Brother as of yet, hopefully
they go back and pick up the Foreign Exchange, "Sleepers," "Murs
3:16," and "The Listening."
do you have to do to make sure "The Minstrel Show" is successful?
Wonder: We've got to break the barrier and that dangerous box we've been
put in. I know people are going to put us in a box with our sound and
music. Phonte and Pooh are regular people who talk about regular things
who talk about normal things: life, women, jobs, women, kids, women. We've
been put in a box to be backpackers or "conscious rappers" or
"jazzy, groovy guys." It's not about that. I know the nerdiest
of the nerdy and I know the hardest of the gangster, and I know who we
are, and we can tell stories for both sides. I hope that people will see
that "The Minstrel Show" is not a neo-soul record or any kind
of label. It's just a record man. A great record. Whether you go to NYU
and study biochemistry or you're in the hood, you need to hear these records.
This record is for everybody man.
coming up for you?
Touring. Just hitting the road and grinding it out.
Wonder: I also just did a joint with Mary J Blige.
do you want to say to all your fans out there?
Thank you for supporting Little Brother, and thank you for continuing
to support Little Brother, for those that got everything we put out, including
the bootlegs. Go out and support Little Brother on September 13th. We're
heading out on the Commercial Free Tour, its Little Brother and family,
coming to a city near you. Go out and check for that, and keep supporting
I just want to say thank you for supporting the music and buying the records,
bootlegging the records. Everything that they buy, or post on a message
board, it's all good. Thank you for supporting our movement. I'm really
appreciative of that and I feel blessed that I'm able to make a living
making music that I love. Thank you for allowing me to do that and thank
you for supporting.
Wonder: Thanks for supporting us from day one. It's been a wonderful ride
and a dream come true. September 13th, we're all going to bring it home.
To all of the fans that like Little Brother and want to hear more, the
time is now. It's time to celebrate that we've made it. It's our time