This tuesday 'House Of Cards' by The Foreign Exchange is 'Song Of The Day' on NPR Music!
The Foreign Exchange transports listeners to the internal inferno of an unfaithful lover in the sensual but scalding "House of Cards." Early on, singer Phonte Coleman croons about covering up his tracks and rehearsing his deceitful lines after returning home from a night out. His paranoia, however, finds him waging an inner war best illustrated by Mushinah's captivating wails. Here, she plays the role of not the unsuspecting love interest or the co-conspirator in the betrayal, but Coleman's guilty conscience. "I've seen the sorrow you were meant for / Your house of cards is gonna fall," she warns.
Nicolay Rook evokes a sense of claustrophobic consternation with his hazy soundscape of haunting keyboard riffs, angst-ridden guitars and jackhammer beats. The clamor nearly drowns out Phonte's voice to sublime effect as he confesses to himself: "There's no one else to blame / Your worst enemy is you."
Phonte and Nicolay, the respective emcee and producer behind the Foreign Exchange, have done just what their sophomore album, Leave It All Behind, alludes to. They have left it all behind, and by "it", I mean their debut, Connected, which was fresh, stylish, and absolutely fantastic. Although there are musical similarities to that album, the duo has jumped head first into more mature territory on Leave It All Behind. The playfulness that has characterized Phonte throughout his career is mostly gone in this more focused, grown-up songwriter. And yes, he does sing on every song. But don't think he decided to randomly up and try his hand at some Love Below-esque joints. Anyone who knows Phonte is well aware that he has sung plenty of hooks, and even some full tracks, both as part of Little Brother and the Foreign Exchange.
Even though Phonte isn't going to win any awards for his vocal performances here, not recognizing his talents as a singer would be a sin. Few rappers can match his chops, both as an emcee and a singer. It's for that reason that Phonte gets a slight pass for not having the range of his vocalist contemporaries, like John Legend and others. But Phonte knows that. He doesn't try to hit any notes outside of his range or overextend himself. Instead, he uses his charming, sometimes smooth voice to lure you in. And some of his duets are absolutely breathtaking, particularly those with Muhsinah. Her breathy voice meshes with his so well that it's impossible to not get sucked into tracks like "Daykeeper" and "House of Cards", which are a one-two punch that R&B has not seen yet this year.
Friday, November 21, 2008 at
Sonja Haynes Stone Center
Netherlands producer Nicolay, and MC, Phonte one half of Little Brother have come together for their second Foreign Exchange effort entitled Leave it All Behind. With Nicolay moving to North Carolina where Phonte is from and still resides, one would think studio sessions as opposed to the Internet and file sharing that occurred while Nicolay was stationed in the Netherlands would be more frequent. Wrong, the combo figured if it worked, why fix it? As well, with our current economic state where gas is $4.00 per/gallon even though they're in the same state, money is money.
The new Foreign Exchange album existed mainly as an idea, or topic of discussion for Hip Hop fans. Nestled somewhere next to that new Reflection Eternal disc, between Detox and Blackstar was a new LP that Phonte and Nicolay both said they were working on. Fans held their collective breathes, hoping that the new album would actually come to fruition. Writers tried to sneak in questions pertaining to the new disc while conducting interviews about The Minstrel Show or Getback, Hear or Time:Line. The new record is now in stores, and the interviews focus on Leave It All Behind, rather than rumors and hopes of what it could be.
"I think in the past we were reluctant to talk about it cause we didn't want to ruin the surprise of it. We were still trying to find our way in terms of what we were going to do, or, if and when we were gonna do another Foreign Exchange record," Phonte told us just a couple days after the release of the LP. "Now that it's finally here it feels good to finally have it out for the world to hear."
Sunday, November 16, 2008 at
Saturday, November 15, 2008 at