How a chance encounter outside of a North Carolina Central dorm room — and a copy of The Source — inspired a beloved and disruptive southern hip-hop movement.
Little Brother — Phonte, Rapper Big Pooh, and 9th Wonder— are front-and-center in the new mini-doc, The Listening, detailing the group’s origins and the creation of their critically-adored 2003 debut.
Directed by Holland Randolph Gallagher, the 11-minute dive gathers interviews with members of the Justus League — Chaundon, DJ Flash, Cesar Comanche and Khrysis — Questlove, and more to chart the group’s rise from campus underdogs to darlings of the early rap internets to regional and national hip-hop titans. (Shouts to the Okayplayer boards, where a post-LB Phonte would later meet Nicolay and forge his second band, The Foreign Exchange.)
The film was commissioned by the North Carolina Arts Council as part of the organization’s Come Hear NC campaign, which is leading initiatives to preserve cultural landmarks across the state, including the restoration of Nina Simone’s childhood home.
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In a statement, via email, Phonte praised the film’s director and the NC Art Council’s involvement: “For this project to be selected as a Come Hear NC commission was really poetic for me. I couldn’t think of a better, more fitting outlet to tell our story as musicians who continue to live and work in North Carolina. I wanted to work with Holland on this story because I was really impressed with his web series, Hype. He understands how to tell a story using minimal resources, which was always a part of the Little Brother ethos – making the most out of what you have.”
Watch Little Brother’s The Listening documentary below and scroll on to stream the group’s classic debut album on Spotify.