The Minstrel Show

The Minstrel Show is the second studio album by hip hop trio Little Brother. It followed the critical success of their 2003 debut, The Listening. The album was highly anticipated and touted as a probable breakthrough for the group, even before its release. The title is a reference to the minstrel shows that were popular in the United States during the 19th century.

The Minstrel Show
Little Brother - The Minstrel Show.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 13, 2005
GenreHip hop, jazz rap
LabelAtlantic (compact disc)
ABB Records (vinyl)
Producer9th Wonder, Nicolay, Khrysis, Piano Reeves
Little Brother chronology
The Listening
The Minstrel Show
The Commercial Free EP
Singles from The Minstrel Show
  1. "Lovin' It"
    Released: August 16, 2005
  2. "Slow It Down"
    Released: 2006


The album has a running concept based on a fictional television network called "UBN" (U Black Niggas Network), which is a satire of stereotypical programs and advertisements for African Americans. For example, on "Cheatin", Phonte (performing under his alter-ego "Percy Miracles"), spoofs the over-dramatic R&B sagas performed by singers such as R. Kelly and Ronald Isley. Many of the skits contain tongue-in-cheek references to black pop-culture in the United States.


For many reasons, the furor surrounding The Minstrel Show overshadowed the music itself. On August 16, 2005, hip hop magazine The Source's Editor-in-Chief, Joshua "Fahiym" Ratcliffe, announced his retirement due to conflicting opinions on the rating The Minstrel Show was to receive in the next issue of the publication. According to Ratcliffe, his original rating of 4.5 (out of 5) was reduced to 4 by the magazine's Chief Brand Executive, Raymond "Benzino" Scott and CEO Dave Mays because Ratcliffe gave then-upcoming artist Young Jeezy a rating of 4. After they refused to change the rating back to 4.5 he decided to step down from his editorial position. For his part, Benzino admitted at the time of questioning, that he had yet to listen to the album for himself and had no problem with Ratcliffe's original rating.

While this may have built up anticipation for the album, another more serious obstacle reared its head when the entertainment network BET (Black Entertainment Television) refused to play the group's video for the single, "Lovin' It", allegedly because they deemed it "too intelligent".[1][2] Michael Lewellen, a publicist and program director for BET, responded, "It's not true, not in that context. BET reserves the right to show or not to show music videos of any type based on the network's own standards and decision-making processes."[3] In a portion of the video, the group lightly pokes fun at the different stylistic aspects of hip hop subgenres such as "gangsta", "backpack", "earthy" and "icy". The rest of it sees them performing to a zealous crowd.[1]


Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating      link
Allmusic      link      link
Okayplayer(83/100) link link
Vibe      link
The Source     
XXL Magazine     

In contrast to the reaction of BET, Little Brother received praises from many powerful forces within the hip hop world, such as XXL magazine, who gave the album an "XL" rating and most notably, Scratch Magazine, who gave it a perfect 10 out of 10 rating. Despite all the controversy, The Minstrel Show debuted at a #56 position on the Billboard charts selling 18,000 copies in its first week out (a much lower number than expected by both fans and critics). A second official single and any further promotion of the album was abandoned by Atlantic Records, and although the group soon began recording their follow-up album, Getback, their relationship with the label drew to a close before its release.

Track listingEdit

Unless otherwise indicated, Information is based on the album’s Liner Notes[4]

# Title Producer(s) Performer(s) Time Samples
1 "Welcome to the Minstrel Show" 9th Wonder YahZarah
Chris Hardwick
Darien Brockington
2 "Beautiful Morning" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
3 "The Becoming" 9th Wonder Phonte 2:05
4 "Not Enough" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Darien Brockington
5 "Cheatin'" Piano Reeves Percy Miracles
Mr. Diggs
6 "Hiding Place" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
(also additional skit)
Additional Skit by Joe Scudda
7 "Slow It Down" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Darien Brockington
8 "Say It Again" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Pamela Graham*
  • "Do Something Special (For Your Lady)" by The Five Special
9 "5th & Fashion (Skit)" Nicolay *Interlude* 1:19
10 "Lovin' It" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Joe Scudda
  • "One Night Affair" by The Stylistics
11 "Diary of a Mad Black Daddy (Skit)" 9th Wonder *Interlude* 0:40
  • Little Brother song "Lovin' It"[8]
12 "All for You" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
Darien Brockington
Keyboards & Strings by James Poyser
13 "Watch Me" Khrysis Rapper Big Pooh
DJ Scratches by DJ Jazzy Jeff
14 "Sincerely Yours" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh 3:15
15 "Still Lives Through" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh
16 "Minstrel Show Closing Theme" 9th Wonder YahZarah
Chris Hardwick
  • "No Stronger Love" by The Floaters
17 "We Got Now" 9th Wonder Rapper Big Pooh

(*) indicates the Performer contributed Additional Background Vocals to the track.

Album samples songwriting creditsEdit

Information is based on the album’s Liner Notes[4]
Welcome to the Minstrel Show and Minstrel Show Closing Theme

Beautiful Morning

The Becoming

  • "Circles" as performed by Rufus & Chaka Khan[5]; written by Tim Dulaine (aka Tony Dulaine)

Not Enough

Hiding Place

Slow It Down

  • "Slow Dance" as performed by David Ruffin[7]; written by C. Curtis Gadson, Rosslyn Sanders and Rollin Sanders

Say It Again

  • "Do Something Special (For Your Lady)" as performed by Five Special; written by Jerry Q. Jones and Ron Banks

Lovin' It

  • "One Night Affair" as performed by The Stylistics; written by Teddy Randazzo, Roger Joyce and Victoria Pike

All for You

Watch Me

Sincerely Yours

Hold On (Tellin' Me) (B-Side of "Lovin' It" single)

  • "Sitting On The Edge Of My Mind" as performed by Jermaine Jackson; written by Garfield, Fletcher, O'Hara and O'Hara


  1. ^ a b Chery, Carl (8 September 2005). "Little Brother's "Too Intelligent" Says BET, Network Responds To Allegation". Archived from the original on 9 September 2006. Retrieved 14 July 2006.
  2. ^ Walker, Verbal (7 September 2005). "Little Brother's "Too Intelligent" for BET". Retrieved 14 September 2005.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Little Brother. “The Minstrel Show” (Album Notes). ABB Records / Atlantic. 2005.
  5. ^ a b "The Becoming by Little Brother". WhoSampled. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Cheatin' by Little Brother". WhoSampled. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b Supreme Soul Staff (15 September 2012). "'Sample School' - David Ruffin and Little Brother". The Intellectual Revolution.
  8. ^ "Diary of a Mad Black Daddy (Skit) by Little Brother". WhoSampled. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Still Lives Through by Little Brother". WhoSampled. Retrieved 1 August 2019.