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Though Durham, N.C.’s Little Brother heralded itself as “the future of hip-hop” throughout its 2003 debut, The Listening, the claim seems paradoxical given the group’s allegiance to early-’90s aesthetics. Not that MCs Phonte and Big Pooh should be dismissed as a throwback outfit; the duo’s soulful beats and sardonic critiques of mainstream hip-hop have earned praise by critics and peers alike, proclaiming them the inheritors of rap’s golden age. But last year, after parting ways with both Atlantic and producer 9th Wonder—sculptor of Little Brother’s tracks since they paired up in 2001—the group’s own golden age was in question. It’s answered with the new Getback, an album that refines the ties to a bygone era while providing a reality check for hip-hop today. That’s not particularly futuristic, but it’s a welcome alternative for the present. LITTLE BROTHER PERFORMS WITH DIRTYWATER AT 8 P.M. AT THE BLACK CAT, 1811 14TH ST. NW, $18. (202) 667-4490.