+FE MUSIC RELEASES
''ManMade is a complete work -- his best creation yet.'' - Andy Kellman for AllMusic [Click here to read the full review]
+FE Music: The Reworks
''+FE Music: The Reworks provides a fabulous primer to the listener new to The Foreign Exchange's world. It's music of incredibly high quality and broad scope that also brings the outfit's family vibe into even clearer focus.'' - Ron Schepper for Textura [Click here to read the full review]
''More than a set of remixes, The Reworks is a showcase for Phonte and Nicolay's immediate and extended Foreign Exchange Music family -- the duo's like-named group, the artists supported by the label, and their affiliates and peers.'' - Andy Kellman for AllMusic [Click here to read the full review]
''The Reworks serves as both an affirmation for long time fans and a nice introductory overview of the +FE Music catalog for new listeners.'' - Chuck Nunley for Soul Train [Click here to read the full review]
''The remixes and the original songs make +FE Music: The Reworks more than your typical label compilation and/or collection of B-sides. It also doesn’t sound like a sloppily thrown together collection of remixes, a problem that arises more often than not on albums of this breed. There’s a clear sonic vision that’s defined on here as soon as “So What If It Is” pulses through your speakers, and it doesn’t fade until you hear the final kickdrum of “ACSlater”.'' - Andrew Martin for Potholes In My Blog [Click here to read the full review]
''The fifth F.E. release under the group’s lead moniker is a gorgeous retrospective of the major works and highlights of the last nine years of the entire F.E. family, past and present. Favorites get flipped and tracks that might have previously been throwaways now potentially become new favorites with this reworking of F.E. classics. '' - L. Michael Gipson for SoulTracks [Click here to read the full review]
Charity Starts At Home
''Tastemakers may have rediscovered this former leader of backpack-rap heroes Little Brother thanks to his neo-soul project Foreign Exchange and frequent shout-outs from unabashed fan Drake. But Phonte Coleman never stopped making hearty, soulful hip-hop that sticks to your ribs. Rejoining estranged LB producer 9th Wonder, he builds with Big K.R.I.T. and Pharoahe Monch, addressing strained relationships ("Who Loves You More") and sympathizing with unemployed folks ("The Good Fight"). As he puts it on "Everything is Falling Down": "Don't need a new style / Being dope is always in fashion."'' - SPIN Staff for SPIN Magazine [Click here to read the full review]
''Charity Starts at Home proves that none of Phonte’s talents are obsolete and he can merge all of them into one cohesive project that’s as much of a treat as any of his other endeavors, if not more. '' - Andre Barnes for AllMusic [Click here to read the full review]
''Though we hear Phonte say in the song's opening moments, “I'm a work-in-progress, tryin' to get better,” Charity Starts At Home clearly demonstrates that this “work-in-progress” is already very far along.'' - Ron Schepper for Textura [Click here to read the full review]
''Phontigallo’s charitable proverbs won’t impeach the current crop of glitzy media magnets, but then again, that Maturity fellow was never meant to be the life of the party. With a project that’s complete as four walls and a double layered roof, Charity Starts at Home is worth its market value and then some.'' - TC for The Smoking Section [Click here to read the full review]
''With his gloriously grown-up solo debut, one of the smartest, most incisive lyricists alive proves it’s possible to grow older in hip-hop while retaining your dignity. '' - Nathan Rabin for The A.V. Club [Click here to read the full review]
''Phonte reminds his listeners that while he’d rather carry a tune, he can still carry 16 bars a lot further than most rappers. Let that boy sauté.'' - Marcus Moore for Okayplayer [Click here to read the full review]
''With its substantial subject matter, solid production and tightly-woven sequencing, Charity Starts At Home does exactly what a solo debut should: showcases the artist’s skill set and personality all at once. Frankly, this disc solidifies Phonte’s place as one of the best emcees to ever emerge from below the Mason Dixon line—and with his consistent catalog, future releases are likely to only help the case.'' - William E. Ketchum III for HipHop DX [Click here to read the full review]
''Pulling out the crystal ball, one sees Charity Starts at Home on the year-end best of lists.'' - Ryan B. Patrick for Exclaim.ca [Click here to read the full review]
''Praised as a member of Little Brother and The Foreign Exchange, Phonte gets solo shine on Charity Starts At Home. 'Dance In The Reign' is a potent display of Tigallo's lyrical talents, and he also reveals sides of introspection ('Everything Is Falling Down') and storytelling ('Sendin My Love'). Sonically soulful thanks to a heavy 9th Wonder touch, CSAH is a reminder why Tay has been an underground darling for years.'' - Adam Fleischer for XXL Magazine [Click here to read the full review]
''To sum everything up, it's really great to see Median back with a project that appears to be well planned out. Median's flow is solid, the production is solid and the features a solid--all things that are kind of rare in the musical days of our lives. '' - for Rawe Mag [Click here to read the full review]
''The album is a concise thirteen tracks of personalized lyricism blended over soulful chops and loops confidently removed from the experimental swag tendencies of his Gen-Y rap peers.'' - Francisco McCurry for Potholes In My Blog [Click here to read the full review]
''The Foreign Exchange go from strength to strength, and this is one of my albums of the year.'' - for Oh Drat [Click here to read the full review]
''Authenticity documents The Foreign Exchange's still-continuing drive towards defining itself, and one expects that the next chapter might very well find the group inhabiting a vastly different place from the one captured on Authenticity. '' - Ron Schepper for Textura [Click here to read the full review]
''With Authenticity, they have further expanded their sound to include elements of blues, folk and country with equal amounts of love and respect. Their sound is a constant evolution of ideas from the classically trained and experimental Nicolay and the American R&B and hip-hop sensibilities of Phonte that never fails to surprise with its complexity and beauty.'' - Norman Mayers for Nu-Soul Magazine [Click here to read the full review]
''The Netherlands to North Carolina never felt so close together.'' - Scotty Pippen for URB [Click here to read the full review]
''A work of hushed intimacy and unabashed romanticism that uses synthesizers to create incongruously organic, natural-sounding grown-folks R&B.'' - Nathan Rabin for The A.V. Club [Click here to read the full review]
''Clocking in at 38 minutes, Phonte and Nicolay (aka the 21st Century indie version of The System) have created an album that many have tried their entire careers to make. By questioning the genuineness of romantic relationships (some may call it cynicism), Phonte and Nicolay have made the personal universal. Quite an accomplishment.'' - Stephen Johnson for New York Amsterdam News [Click here to read the full review]
''The team of Phonté Coleman and Nicolay continue on their foray of making beautiful soul music with a sound similar to their last album, the heralded Leave It All Behind.'' - for The Napster Blog [Click here to read the full review]
''Where Leave It All Behind was an ode to being in love, Authenticity trafficks in stories of exhaustion, resignation, and quiet, mannered desperation that find the group exploring new musical territories.'' - Craig Jenkins for Potholes In My Blog [Click here to read the full review]
''Authenticity amply lives up to the high expectations created by previous Foreign Exchange releases. It’s easy to forget that it’s only the group’s third release, given how highly revered they are on the indie soul scene. When you consider how much Nic and Phonte’s music has developed over the course of those three albums, Authenticity is nothing short of outstanding.'' - for SoulCuts [Click here to read the full review]
''The Foreign Exchange have made yet another formidable entry into their catalog, seemingly impervious to outside forces in a genre of music that’s got a hard-on for conformity. '' - Sean Kantrowitz for Okayplayer [Click here to read the full review]
''An adult contemporary record that is actually musically and emotionally sophisticated in the vein of Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, and Everything But the Girl (...), cementing the Foreign Exchange as one of the artists at the forefront of contemporary R&B's avant-garde.'' - Tal Rosenberg for Pitchfork [Click here to read the full review]
''Authenticity is a concise, cohesive effort that finds The Foreign Exchange again successfully pushing the boundaries of R&B, soul, electronic music, and hip-hop.'' - Andrew Martin for Prefix Magazine [Click here to read the full review]
''The third chapter in The Foreign Exchange's saga does what any good page-turning novel does--it engrosses you in a tale, then just when you think you have everything figured out and know what's going to happen next, the plot twists, throwing you for a loop. Authenticity is the latest twist for The Foreign Exchange, and their musical story is only getting juicier. '' - Butta for SoulBounce [Click here to read the full review]
''Authenticity is a must-buy for R&B fans, not to mention one of the most musically pleasing examples of international relations.'' - Kelsey Miller for Live Music Guide [Click here to read the full review]
''During the entire set Nicolay provides Phonte the perfect platform for him to talk about the ups and downs of love which allows “Authenticity” to serve as another reminder of how well these two work together. '' - Kil for The Couch Sessions [Click here to read the full review]
''If you’ve loved or even been deep in like, this album will resonate with you beyond some comparison of albums or desire for the familiar. Experiences like this album are why The Foreign Exchange Music group is my currently my favorite musical brand right now and for the foreseeable future. In a time where folks aren’t talking musical chances because the dollar has trumped expression, and being hot is more important than being good, Authenticity stands out just like the leaf on the album cover.'' - Saule Wright for Soulections.com [Click here to read the full review]
''With their third album and second full soul offering continues to show Phonte’s harmonic prowess and Nicolay’s versatility.'' - Bunneh3000 for Blogcritics Music [Click here to read the full review]
''Breakups are the worst; but whether you’re fresh out of a split or still living in a relationship that ended months or years ago, being authentic to yourself can help get you through it. With their combo of lucid lyrics and matching instrumentals, Foreign Exchange can show you how.'' - William Ketchum for The Well Versed [Click here to read the full review]
''Nicolay and Phonte have released another certified classic that will surely be regarded as one of, if not the, best release of 2010.'' - Soul UK for Soul UK [Click here to read the full review]
''Authenticity is the music that represents the love of our generation, and we have plenty of love to give, despite what previous generations may think.'' - for Rawemag [Click here to read the full review]
''Ultimately, Authenticity showcases the individual and collective growth of The Foreign Exchange. Dutch producer Nicolay is known for his dense and sleek recordings, but here he strips his sound, leaving room for Phonte’s burgeoning abilities as a songwriter and composer. The duo’s new album won’t help you find love, but it could help you stay in it.'' - Marcus J. Moore for Washington City Paper [Click here to read the full review]
''Authenticity, is a love letter, but one told in reverse, and one that sees no point in sparing feelings.'' - Rebecca Haithcoat for LA Weekly [Click here to read the full review]
''Authenticity is unadulterated truth, innocent candor and sheer genius.'' - Nekeya O'Connor for ThisIsRealMusic [Click here to read the full review]
''More moody, modern R&B that sounds like nothing else and reveals remarkable depth, Authenticity is neither an everyday nor an every-day album, unless playing it is necessary for the sake of convalescence. '' - Andy Kellman for allmusic [Click here to read the full review]
''Authenticity's uniquely autumn atmosphere, matter-of-fact vocals, and august, love weary lyricism invites travellers into yet another magical world orbiting in FE's ever-expanding electro-soul universe.'' - L. Michael Gipson for SoulTracks [Click here to read the full review]
''Much praise to Zo! and The Foreign Exchange crew for giving us another positive and community-spirited recording refreshingly free of misogyny and hate. '' - Ron Schepper for Textura [Click here to read the full review]
''With SunStorm, Zo! successfully marries his aesthetic to The Foreign Exchange's for a project that is as seamless as it is timeless.'' - Marcus J. Moore for Washington City Paper [Click here to read the full review]
''With a wide range of energies, moods, and tempos, Zo! has delivered a home run of soul that should be celebrated. Highly recommended.'' - B.J. Bunneh Brown for SoulTracks [Click here to read the full review]
''This is true music, and Zo! has revealed himself as a musician of the highest order.'' - Norman Mayers for Nu-Soul Magazine [Click here to read the full review]
''Though it's clear that his musical influences are vast, Zo! manages to craft a sound that is distinctly his own. So sit back, relax and prepare to be taken on the best musical ride your ears will take all year. '' - Ivory for SoulBounce [Click here to read the full review]
''True to its title, SunStorm emits a constant flow of radiant, positive energy'' - Andy Kellman for allmusic [Click here to read the full review]
''I do not doubt that this album will make it to the top of many a year-end list come December, and rightfully so. I’d even go as far as to whisper the words ‘Grammy worthy’ … after all the Foreign Exchange have already made their mark there. I guess only time will tell, but if Sunstorm is anything to go by, then we have MUCH more to look forward too from Zo! and friends in the future.'' - for Soul UK [Click here to read the full review]
City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya
''Relaxed, contemplative, and cucumber cool in its approach to nouveau -80s electronica, Nicolay's Shibuya demonstrates why the Great Dutch is in demand as an indie soul and hip hop producer.'' - L. Michael Gipson for Soul Tracks [Click here to read the full review]
''Another unassuming gem from one of the most creative and increasingly chameleonic producers around.'' - Andy Kellman for allmusic [Click here to read the full review]
''Nicolay's Shibuya: City Lights Vol. 2 exudes the kind of effervescent joy one experiences when visiting an exotic new land for the first time.'' - Ron Schepper for Textura [Click here to read the full review]
''Nicolay captures the excitement of this faraway land like a child chasing a butterfly as it floats away on a gentle breeze. (...) No matter where you are, the intricate layers of Shibuya transport you to another place.'' - Candace L. for Okayplayer [Click here to read the full review]
''Nicolay's new found vision is a refreshing journey of live instrumentation and programmed drum beats.'' - Landon A. for URB Magazine [Click here to read the full review]
''I encourage you to listen to City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya and allow Nicolay to transport you into another level of collective creativity.'' - Fave for SoulBounce [Click here to read the full review]
''The 15-track LP showcases a highly finessed producer who continues to grow.'' - Eric Tullis for Independent Weekly [Click here to read the full review]
''A well conceptualized project for mature ears that is indicative of Phonte's song-writing prowess as well as Nicolay's dexterity on the boards.'' - Eldorado Red for Redlightdistrikt [Click here to read the full review]
''We hear a new and even more musical side of Nicolay. Or maybe he's just letting us get to know him better with each subsequent release. Either way, we recommend buying City Lights Volume 2 right away, and visiting Nicolay's Shibuya as soon as you can.'' - Zane for Leisure Lab [Click here to read the full review]
Leave It All Behind
''The Foreign Exchange may have just earned an unexpected promotion.'' - Ian Cohen for Pitchfork [Click here to read the full review]
''Leave It All Behind can't be recommended highly enough and deserves to be considered one of the year's best releases, regardless of genre.'' - Ron Schepper for Textura [Click here to read the full review]
''It's rare that an emcee is so capable as a songwriter and it's equally as rare, today especially, that a duo with an excellent debut can follow that album up with something completely new and fantastic.'' - Andrew Martin for PopMatters [Click here to read the full review]
''With electronic and live sounds, emotional production and excellent vocals from some of the underground scene’s best, Leave It All Behind is an open and experimental take on hip-hop and soul, highly successful, at that.'' - Norman Mayers for Prefix Magazine [Click here to read the full review]
''Once the album’s final note has faded out, you’ll want to listen again, because in the presence of such impeccable chemistry, it’s hard to Leave It All Behind.'' - Jeff Harvey for Okayplayer [Click here to read the full review]
''Leave It All Behind is a concise and complete set of songs that brings out the best of both producer Nicolay and Phonte.'' - Andy Kellman for allmusic [Click here to read the full review]
''Nicolay has tastefully managed to convey his love through (and, quite aptly, of) music by combining swirling instrumentation and inherent emotion in every track on the album.'' - Steven J. Horowitz for PopMatters [Click here to read the full review]
''The Foreign Exchange's LP is a successful blend of artistry.'' - Dominic Umile for PopMatters [Click here to read the full review]
''Connected is a sweltering, improbable 14-track symphony teeming with potent lyricism and subtle, lustrous rhythmatics.'' - Jamin Warren for Pitchfork [Click here to read the full review]
''Through a potent mix of battle-ready lyricism, falsetto crooning and European ambient grooves, [The Foreign Exchange] create Hip-Hop music from outside the box.'' - Jerry L. Barrow for The Source [Click here to read the full review]
''Bubbling with soulful, mellow warmth, Connected is both an exemplary program of neo-Soulquarian groovology and a rewarding conceptual piece about people getting along in the face of adversity.'' - Chairman Mao for XXL [Click here to read the full review]
After seeing FE perform at BB Kings back in 2009, my fiancée and I made sure that we would not miss their return to BB Kings on Oct. 23rd, 2010. Arriving early to the scene, we were greeted by the sounds of DJ Brainchild spinning an eclectic mix of hip hop and funk. Experiencing everything from Slum Village to Barry White, the crowd spilled into BB Kings anticipating yet another amazing performance for this year's CMJ Festival.
Authenticity has delighted its fans and managed to continue the amazing sound that so many people fell in love with on their sophomore album Leave It All Behind. Despite being released a mere month or so before, the crowd already had their favorite old and new songs in mind and many of them discussed which ones they hope FE would perform.
Once everyone arrived and settled in, Dyana Williams, host of the Unsung series on TVOne, came on stage to formally introduce the main attraction for the night. Speaking of how The Foreign Exchange's music undoubtedly is as touching as it is buzzworthy, she laid the groundwork for yet another unforgettable performance by The Foreign Exchange Music Group.
As the crew came on stage, everyone noticed a slight change in the line up. While last year saw guest vocalists Yahzarah and Carlitta Durand, this year the two were absent. Instead, guest artist Chantae Cann (who is featured on "Laughing At Your Plans" on the album Authenticity) came to assist the usual players of Zo! and Darien Brockington. At times her amazing yet soft voice was drowned out by the excellent musicianship backing FE on stage.
Phonte reached the stage and thanked the crowd for all of the love and pointed out how their release of Authenticity managed to beat out other major label artists (like Trey Songz) who "actually have a budget"! As the crowd laughed he managed to make it clear that he and Nicolay are purists in the true sense of the word. They do what they do because they love music not because they love fame.
Once the music got going and they launched into "The Last Fall", one thing was decidedly clear. Phonte did quite a bit less 'prelude dialogue' explaining each song as he had done on the Leave It All Behind setlist a year ago. In a way, he really didn't need to. As you listened to the chorus for "The Last Fall" and the Leave It All Behind featured "House Of Cards" that followed, it was clear that the songs truly speak for themselves. Speaking of the heartbreak and revelation of toxic love, the lyrics of both songs eloquently explain themselves.
Phonte probably took this into account learning from his last tour and realized that despite being wildly entertaining, his interludes weren't really needed. The music speaks for itself! By performing "Authenticity", the crowd truly responded. It was very clear that the crowd had at the very least learned the chorus for this song:
"I don't know where I should be! [Soft Break] This game we play is killing me. [Soft Break] She's all that I could dream, [Soft Break] But she tears me apart. [Soft Break] She wants me to fill her need, [Soft Break]She begs for authenticity, [Soft Break] You don't want truth from me, [Soft Break] You just want what you want!"
Even if the crowd didn't know the chorus from the start, by the end of the song it was clear that they did.
Following that performance they launched into "Fight For Love" followed by a bit more Phonte hilarity.
The laughter continued as Phonte was told of a guest named Jesse Boykins III. This brotha has managed to carve out a unique soulful and funky sound that even Phonte was in awe of. Speaking well of Jesse's recent body of work, Phonte brought him to the stage with thunderous applause. Personally I had only recently heard of Jesse's amazing work through a music blog site named 2dopeboyz.com. They shared a free single that Jesse released remaking Andre3000's "Prototype" song.
Where Andre's version was a tad bit quirky and sexy at the same time, Jesse's version was pure seduction. Remakes are rarely better than the original but my fiancée instantly fell in love with his sound as did I. As he walked on the stage after the introduction, it was clear that the crowd was already in love with his work as well.
Jesse comfortably joined the FE crew onstage and they blasted into the two different collaborations that featured Jesse Boykins. The first was off of Zo!'s album Sunstorm entitled "If I Could Tell You No". The song's jazz club sound sweetly compliments Jesse's style and he serenaded the women near the stage confidently as they all responded.
This was just a set up for a blazing rendition of the FE song "Make Me A Fool" which featured Jesse as well.
With this performance, the crowd really gets going. It begins a string of upbeat classic FE songs as well as new songs that are all very energetic and danceable.
Zo!'s single "This Could Be The Night" began, I could help but remember Zo! and Phonte's Love The 80's project. The track is so lighthearted and yet timeless that it certainly made me wonder if their reported Love The 90's project is still coming. Of course, as they performed, Phonte took a bit more Comic View time to add a little twist to the lyrics like:
"And to the girl you holla'd at on Twitta, babe This could be the night!"
"And to that dude that you blocked on Facebook He found yo @ss and he's in here!! This could be the night!"
Phonte then clowns some of his Justus League crewmates including Joe Scudda, Chaundon, and manager Big Doh as a Fred Hampton look-a-like leading into two songs from the Connected album. As standout tracks, "Nic's Groove" and "Come Around" have an undeniable style and feel to them even when performed live that gets you going. With Rapper Big Pooh joining the renditions, it was clear that no FE concert is complete without performing these tracks. One thing is clear everytime "Come Around" is performed is Darien Brockington's commanding and powerful voice. This brotha has that classic 90's crooner voice like Case or K-Ci from Jodeci. As he completely destroys this song, the ladies energize him to continue. Then as a beautiful treat, Darien ended the song with a beautiful rendition of Donny Hathaway's "A Song For You".
The drummer then kicked into the riff for the Authenticity track "Don't Wait" as Phonte giggled through a James Brown impression. Yet another album favorite, this song has a singable chorus that is easy to get crowd involvement with. Before long, the crowd sang along once again. Phonte even launched back into the song once it was done just to get Zo!'s talkbox solo in. Of course, this led to more Phonte comedy.
After going through the first single of the Authenticity album, "Maybe She'll Dream Of Me", FE played a trifecta of Leave It All Behind classics. Launching the crowd, and the ladies, into a frenzy, each song kept the crowd singing throughout. Playing "Take Off The Blues", "Daykeeper", and "Valediction", FE showed why their second album was such an amazing effort. The Grammy nominated and harmony heavy "Daykeeper" was especially close to the crowd's heart it seemed. So sweet and sonically complex, this song will certainly be the flagship for FE's style forever more.
As the next portion of the concert rolled on, it was very clear that not only Nic and Phonte, but the whole of the FE+ music group have unique and smooth soul sound. As the concert wound down, Phonte took time to explain what their creative direction was. He explained that they wanted to make music that sounded great even if it was performed acoustically or in acapella. Playing Zo!'s "All Is Well With Love", and FE's "All Roads" and "I Wanna Know", the crowd was gifted some of their best slow jams.
Probably the crowning moment of the entire concert was the final performance of the night. For most of the time, Chantae Cann's Carlitta Durand-esque voice sweetly complimented each and every song mostly as a background voice. With "Laughing At Your Plans", Chantae beautifully and gracefully stepped into the spotlight. Already a gorgeous song, Chantae's voice just has that unique and soft flair much like Amel Larrieux that is sure to carry her far. When it was done, the crowd belted out their appreciation for her amazing rendition and voice.
Thanking the crowd, Phonte, Nicolay and the band wrapped up the show and ended yet another amazing performance and night.