Watch A Video That Details The Events Leading Up To Little Brother’s 2018 Reunion
Less than a year ago, the three members of Little Brother performed together for the first time in more than a decade. Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh, and 9th reunited at the home of the Durham Bulls in North Carolina for The Art Of Cool Festival. The setting was symbolic, as the same venue had been a backdrop to one of the group’s earliest press photographs nearly 20 years prior.
Following last month’s The Listening: The Story Behind Little Brother’s Debut Album video, a sequel (also directed by Holland Randolph Gallagher) chronicles mending fences. 9th Wonder had exited the group after 2005’s critically-acclaimed Minstrel Show album. While Pooh and ‘Te steered the ship into 2010, they ultimately parted ways in the interest of solo careers. Since September of last year, it has been revealed that Pooh and Phonte are resuming the group, with the blessing and support of 9th.
Homecoming: The Story Behind Little Brother’s Surprise Reunion uncovers all that transpired in the years, months, and ultimately, the hours before September 2018’s on-stage show of true Brother-hood.
“There were many thwarted attempts to get these guys reunited,” Questlove says. The Roots’ band-leader has long been one of L.B.’s most famous advocates. “I think, personally, by that point, those guys were just like really done with each other.” Behind the scenes, Quest’ (who worked with 9th and Phonte on Roots works) was pushing. “Nothing’s more frustrating than when you commit to something as a fan, and it doesn’t see itself through. Much to their chagrin, I have hammered home time and time again, ‘Yo, y’all gotta stick together.” Like De La Soul and Run-D.M.C. before them, The Roots are a group that has put its collective interests above solo pursuits, even with a revolving ensemble built around Quest’, Black Thought, and later, Kamal Gray.
The group agrees. “First, me, Phonte, and Pooh wasn’t speaking,” 9th says, presumably referring to a period that was documented following his exit. “Me and Pooh didn’t talk [for] a couple [of] years. Me and 9th didn’t talk,” Phonte adds in a clip. 9th refers to another era. “Me and Pooh were speaking; me and Phonte weren’t.” As the clips intersperse, Phonte sums it up. “Sh*t was f*cked up for a long time.”
Pooh opens up about his anger. In 2013, the Virginia native was hospitalized for a blood clot. While 9th Wonder reached out, Phonte did not. “Our differences weren’t that bad where [I] almost could’ve died and I ain’t heard from him. I was carrying that; that hurt me. The other sh*t we were going through? That was just petty pride. But that hurt.”
Three years later, Phife Dawg died. The three men who modeled their group after A Tribe Called Quest and others took audit of themselves. Although hurt, Pooh took the first step. “I texted ‘Te [as I learned about Phife], ‘Yo man, whether we speak again or become close again or whatever—it doesn’t matter. I just wanted to let you know, you’ll always be my brother. I love you.’ And he ended up responding back. He was like, ‘Yo. I love you too…,’ whatever-whatever, ‘Let’s get on the phone.’ And he called me. And we ended up talking for about four hours.”
During this period, The Art Of Cool was established to try and showcase the rich culture in Durham, North Carolina. The team running the 2018 event for the city had individual relationships with all three L.B. founders.
At last year’s The Art Of Cool, Royce 5’9 was intended to perform before Nas. However, the Detroit, Michigan MC missed his flight. It led organizers to call Phonte in hopes of him filling in. Phonte unsuccessfully tries to reach DJ Flash with less than four hours before he was supposed to go on stage. In a hurry, Phonte calls 9th. After 9th agrees, Phonte had an idea. He recalls, “‘I’m going out on a limb here…what if we got Pooh involved?'” 9th recalls, “I told him, ‘If you do this, you’re gonna open up a can of worms you can’t close, bruh.'”
Notably, Pooh was in Charlotte, North Carolina—several hours from Durham. Phonte had to call Pooh back-to-back, which alludes to some frustration. In speaking, Phonte made a case. “We’re in Durham, the city where we formed, where we all met and sh*t…this would just be a great gift for our city.”
Pooh jumped in his car. 9th Wonder had to meet with DJ Flash in a shopping center parking lot to get the instrumental files. On the phone, the three artists had to scramble for a setlist.
“I’m literally performing these songs that were from another life—literally another life; this was 15 years ago when we made these records,” Phonte recalls. “We pulled it off. It was the greatest Chinese fire-drill ever executed.”
What fans may not have known previously is that Phonte hosted a cookout the following day. Before other guests arrived, the three men could “talk freely,” as Pooh recalls. “We talked about the idea of doing another Little Brother record. The energy was right; the vibe right. And [Pooh and I] were both just like, yeah.” 9th Wonder, looking down, appears in the last shot of the 12-minute doc’. He says, “The journey continues, man.”
At AFH TV, there are several video interviews and series episodes with 9th Wonder as well as conversations with Rapsody, Murs, and Smif-N-Wessun. We are currently offering free 7-day trial subscriptions.