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Rapper Big Pooh : The Delightful Bars

These are uncertain times for Little Brother fans. Super-producer 9th Wonder left the group before Getback, and super-lyricist Phonte is currently indulging his inner soulman on Foreign Exchange’s second album. So, like the fat kid called upon to hit a game-winning home run, the slept-on and underrated Big Pooh has been left to carry the torch for real hip-hop on his new project, The Delightful Bars. Bars began as a mix-tape, but Pooh was so pleased with the results that he decided to release it commercially as a “street album” in four separate versions for iTunes, North America, Europe, and Japan. Bars doesn’t entirely transcend its origins: It’s a step down from Pooh’s stellar debut, Sleepers, and while Pooh isn’t in the same league lyrically as Phonte, he still excels at the grand gestalt of putting together a memorable hip-hop song, from the backward carnival funk of “C.O.D.” and “Nothing Less” to the posse cuts “Roll Call” and “Reality Check.” Pooh reunites with 9th Wonder and resurrects the hyper-soulful early Little Brother sound on “Rearview Mirror,” a bittersweet analysis of the group’s rocky evolution and the scars incurred growing up and growing apart. Rock-solid steak-and-potatoes hip-hop, Bars was designed primarily as an appetizer for Pooh’s official Sleepers follow-up, Dirty Pretty Things. Consider appetites sufficiently whetted.

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