Published Sep 04, 2019Though a Little Brother reunion once seemed about as likely as a finished album from Jay Electronica, the North Carolina duo surprised listeners with their first studio album in nine years. For day one fans, the offering doesn't disappoint: May the Lord Watch is a respite for weary boom-bap enthusiasts yearning for LB's signature blend of thumping beats and solid, blue-collar bars.
Phonte and Big Pooh exhibit razor-sharp chemistry throughout the album, trading witty one-liners that betray their almost decade-long hiatus. And although 9th Wonder is conspicuously absent from the album, Little Brother curate a perfect mix of producers (Focus…, Khrysis and Nottz especially) to honour the shiny, boom-bap feel that helped propel the group to the spotlight.
May the Lord Watch is a definite tribute to long-time listeners, brimming with skits, cameos and intimate nods to the group's 2005 classic, The Minstrel Show. The fictional UBN Network makes a comeback, and with it, characters like Phonte's Percy Miracles come back to life (er, for a limited time). It's very much inside baseball, which is charming for long-time fans, but certainly risks marginalizing newbies.
As far as comeback albums go, May the Lord Watch is resurgence done right. But if you're new to the North Carolina duo, listen to their older work first for context. (Imagine Nation / For Members Only / Empire)