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RECENT INTERVIEWS
Indie-soul collective Foreign Exchange plays the Cat's Cradle (via The News & Observer)
It seems like only yesterday Phonte Coleman was just a North Carolina rapper/singer, one-third of the up-and-coming hip-hop trio Little Brother. Back then, Coleman was also exchanging music files with an Internet help desk employee and aspiring producer in the Netherlands (Matthijs “Nicolay” Rook), hoping the two could make music together.

Phonte and Nicolay remain focused on The Foreign Exchange (via Creative Loafing)
With their fifth studio album, Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey, The Foreign Exchange has perfected its sophisticated take on R&B, incorporating not only a range of sticky sweet melodies, but also a smattering of nuanced romantic themes like domesticity and compromise. But whatever you do, don't call it ''grown man music.''

The Foreign Exchange Evoke Chaucer on 'Tales from the Land of Milk and Honey' (via Exclaim!)
''More than anything else, the biggest crime as an artist is to be boring.'' Phonte Coleman, the primary songwriter, vocalist and animated gif half of the Foreign Exchange, has probably never been at the receiving end of such an accusation. Over the course five albums with partner Nicolay, Phonte has equated love to an excuse, displayed affection through lunchtime chicken wing delivery, and made a gorgeously passive-aggressive ode to the better mate. His songwriting is unparalleled in its combined frankness, humour and relevance in our everyday dalliances.

The Foreign Exchange introduces its own Song of Solomon: 'Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey' (via Washington Post)
Phonte Coleman, the rapping, singing half of the hip-hop/R&B duo the Foreign Exchange, has a complicated relationship with religion. When he was growing up, he detested the mandatory trips to his grandmother’s baptist church, so he joined the choir just to make the ordeal more palatable. At least from the choir stand there was an added element of entertainment. Stationed behind the preacher, young Phonte could gaze upon the flock and see who was fanning themselves, who was trying not to fall asleep and who was struggling to stay on beat.

The Foreign Exchange's Nicolay tours to find new inspiration (via IndyWeek)
Phonte Coleman and Matthijs 'Nicolay' Rook keep their distance. Together, they've made several albums, toured the world, been nominated for a Grammy and built a little independent empire under the name The Foreign Exchange. But Coleman raps and sings from Raleigh, while the Dutch-born Nicolay lives in Wilmington. The space between them must be fertile, as they both pursue separate artistic offshoots. Coleman has his hip-hop and TV endeavors, while Nicolay has just released his expansive fourth solo album, City Lights Vol. 3: Soweto, in which he offers up a Euro-soul take on South Africa's native rhythms.

We Be Spirits interviews Nicolay
Nicolay is one of the most eclectic and innovative music producers around, full stop. His first notable achievement as producer came in 2004 after Connected was released – the debut album of The Foreign Exchange, of which he is half. The album was famously recorded with the 'exchange' of electronic files across the Atlantic; the artists meeting only after it had been finished. He has since gone on to cover new and exciting musical ground releasing albums as a solo artist, as well as part of TFE.

Nicolay wraps his experiences abroad into a jazzy album (via Star-News)
It was around 3 a.m. one morning in May of last year when the Wilmington-based musician Nicolay and his neo-soul band, The Foreign Exchange, crossed Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg, South Africa. They were dead tired from being on tour, and only hours earlier had played a sold-out show for fans they didn't know existed.

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Phonte: In My Own Words (via The Source)

by +FE on August 30, 2011 at 1:13 PM · Comments
As a part of one of Hip-Hop's most influential groups, Little Brother; Phonte has always stood out. Ask around with anyone in the know, and he is pound for pound, one of music's most talented artists. He raps as good as any rapper in the game and sings just as good as any singer in R&B. Now, the freakishly talented artist out of North Carolina is ready to break out with his first solo project, Charity Starts At Home, and has linked back up with Little Brother member 9th Wonder after a long hiatus. In this interview, Tigallo speaks on his inspiration for the solo album, his relationship with Drake, 9th Wonder, the future of The Foreign Exchange and Little Brother, and more.
You shocked a lot of people by reuniting with 9th Wonder earlier this year. What exactly led to the reunion?

Me and 9th have a mutual friend in Fatin "10" Horton. Fatin is a producer in 9th's Soul Council production team and he's been a friend of mine since we were both teenagers growing up in Greensboro, NC. Through the years, he's always been a neutral party and always told us, "Look, whatever y'all gotta work out, that's on y'all; both of y'all are still my peoples." Fatin called me on New Year's Eve and said that 9th wanted to talk, and I told him to give 9th my number and we can hash it all out. He came to my crib on New Year's Day 2011 and we been rockin ever since.

The Foreign Exchange really allowed you to spread your wings as a complete artist, what does the future hold for that?

The Foreign Exchange has changed my life in so many ways. I tell everybody that +FE is me and Nic's 401K package. I love the craft of emceeing, but you can't rap forever. Being the person I am, I just love doing music. I don't want a vanity label, I don't want a bullshit clothing line, I want to make music until I die. +FE gives me the space to do that. I can sing til' I'm 70 if I want to. Me and Nic can be like Frankie Beverly and Maze and tour forever. You see Frankie step onstage with his white hat and them white linen pants, you know what time it is...lol.

You've always said Drake was your homie, and he stated in the past that he wanted you on his next album. Is that still happening?

To my knowledge, it's not happening. We've made contact with each other but all of my attempts to make something real happen have led to a dead end. I saw that he dedicated his BMI award to me and while that was a very noble and thoughtful gesture, I'd much rather he had dedicated himself to finishing a verse for one of me and 9th's songs. That, to me, seems like a more tangible way of showing gratitude. But with that said, I'm still a fan and I think he's an incredibly talented artist. When 'Take Care' drops, he's got my money.

What was the inspiration behind making Charity Starts At Home?

A solo album has always been something I thought of doing one day, if for no other reason than to cross it off my bucket list. Up until this point, I never really had a need to do one nor did I have the desire to, quite honestly. Between LB, +FE, and all my features, I pretty much get to say what I wanna say and get out all my creative energy. But now that LB is no more and +FE has pretty much left hip-hop behind altogether, there's a space for me to exist as a solo artist. And now that it's done, a big part of me feels like, "Welp....okay...that was cool....let's move on to the next thing." I don't like staying in one place creatively for very long.

It almost seemed that at one point you were ready to give up on rapping and stick with singing. It's not like you ever really left, but what made you want to "come back," for lack of a better term?

I felt that a solo album was something I had to do in order to give people an understanding of who I am as an artist. Everything I've done in my career has always been in service of another brand; I've never done something solely for myself. That's the significance of the title "Charity Starts At Home." I have to start doing more for myself and taking care of me.

You and Elzhi have always had a dope chemistry together, and you've showed that off on "Not Here Anymore." What's it like when you guys are in the studio together?

The only time me and El have been in the studio together was when we did "Hiding Place" back in '04. All our other collabs have been through email, but the spirit of competition and camaraderie is still there between us. El is one of the best MC's on the planet and working with him always pushes me to be the very best. When we get together it's like iron sharpening iron, he really keeps me on my toes and I hope that my words do the same for him.

When people think of Little Brother and especially Phonte, most people always say you are slept on. Does that stigma ever get annoying?

Nah, not at all. I think people refer to me as 'slept on' only because they feel like I should be bigger and they want more for me than I want for myself. I'm good in the space that I occupy. I'm able to make the music I want to make, put it out on my own terms, and live a relatively normal life. That makes me happy. I've never wanted to be famous. All that attention would make me absolutely miserable.

At the end of the day, what do you want people to remember about Phonte the artist?

I rapped real good, sang real good, and hopefully touched somebody's life in the process. Haha!
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