The album's hip-hop focus is established immediately when "Dance in the Reign" rolls out a dramatic downtempo groove as a base for Phonte's rhymes and Sy Smith's silken vocals. Sweetened with turntable swizzle by DJ Flash and soulful background singing, "The Good Fight" finds Phonte enumerating a laundry-list of everyday struggles, and the theme persists through "Everything Is Falling Down" in its lyrics ("I stagger in my footsteps and I don't even drink / I got so much on my mind, dog, that I can't even think") though some hint of salvation arrives in the form of Jeanne Jolly's beautiful refrain, even if her words don't reflect it ("It feels like everything is falling down"). "Not Here Anymore" bridges Phonte's two worlds in marrying his flow to a chorus that wouldn't sound out of place on a Foreign Exchange track ("Right where I thought I'd be / It's another part of me / And the world's so sad to see / that I'm not here anymore").
Continue reading Textura reviews Charity Starts At Home
'Off The Shelf' is the name of a recurring series on +FE Music. For each episode, Nicolay digs into his archives to present you with a gem that has never been released, or that has otherwise been forgotten about.Time flies.
That's the short version of the reason why the follow-up to "The Dutch Masters Vol. 1" (2005) never came to be. I started working on it in 2007 for a planned 2008 release, but the re-emergence of The Foreign Exchange and all that came with it soon took all of my time and attention, not to mention the fact that my musical direction was shifting. And so the material that I had intended to use for The Dutch Masters Vol. 2 ended up on the shelf.
Until now! In the upcoming episodes of my Off The Shelf series, I am going to set this material free one track at a time. This episode: "Until My Life's Gone (Nicolay Remix)" by Collective Efforts
Original cover art by Sean Kernick, 2007/08.
When I first arrived in the States, in the Spring of 2006, I did an extensive tour of DJ-sets across the country to "introduce myself" and to promote the album I was about to release, Here (BBE; 2006). One of those shows was in Atlanta, where I opened up for my fam J*Davey. Also performing was a local group called Collective Efforts. They sounded good and, equally important, were some genuinely good people. After that I would run into them each time that I visited Atlanta, and we stayed in touch.
I did this remix for them in early 2007, and it has always been a personal favorite of mine. I honestly don't remember if it ever came out around that time. Either way, I was going to include this on DM2 as the first track. So here it is, with a shout out to Collective Efforts. Enjoy, and please spread the word if you like what you hear. And check back in two weeks for the second track from DM2.
Thank you for listening,
Visit Collective Efforts on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Collective-Efforts/7493495361
"UNTIL MY LIFE'S GONE (NICOLAY REMIX)" DOWNLOAD
Vocals by Ben Hameen, J Mil and Bambu
Cuts by DJ Creashun
Remix produced by Nicolay
Phonte stays true to his distinguishable form, weighing in on practical topics such as striving to be a better role model ("Who Loves You More") and keeping a spark in an otherwise good marriage ("Ball and Chain"). Copious platters of food for thought and duck soup aside, Charity Starts at Home is still an MC's MC's album, boosted by witty punchlines that don't require an isolated pause and sturdy instrumentals with symphonic balance from prime players like Khrysis, Swiff D. and the official reunion with 9th Wonder.
Continue reading The Smoking Section reviews Charity Starts At Home
Charity Begins At Home proceeds at a casual, unhurried pace, with Phonte easily sliding between rapping, singing, and shit-talking in a manner that splits the difference between Little Brother's old-school grooves and the quiet storm of his R&B work with Foreign Exchange. 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. As Phonte raps on "Everything Is Falling Down," "I don't need a new style / being dope is always in fashion."
More than six years removed from that seminal L.B. recording, and Charity Starts At Home is a coming out of sorts for Phonte, known these days as the vocalist of The Foreign Exchange, which doesn't weave much rapping into its airy concoction of electro-soul music. Still, Phonte's proven this past year that he hasn't lost the propensity for witty wordplay and rich humor, trading bars with some of hip-hop's most respected luminaries. Maybe that's why Charity feels like another notch on Phonte's creative belt, a celebratory and triumphant debut for an artist who's already spent 10 years in the industry. But while other MCs might dump everything into their respective debuts, Phonte takes a lean approach, merging his raw Little Brother aesthetic with the smoother Foreign Exchange sound, resulting in a streamlined recording that leapfrogs between two distinct worlds -- complex lyrical compositions for hip-hop enthusiasts and mature ballads for grown-ups. This is sophisticated music for the adult soul.
Continue reading Okayplayer reviews Charity Starts At Home
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Charity Starts At Home plays like a Best of Both Worlds for Phonte's career. He was always the more lyrically acrobatic member of LB, so it's gratifying to see him volley multisyllabic rhyme schemes and punchlines alongside the likes of Elzhi ("Not Here Anymore" ), Pharaohe Monch ("We Go Off"), and Evidence and Big K.R.I.T. ("The Life Of Kings" ) throughout the songs' collaborations. But as a married father and music veteran, Phonte's sung lyrics with Foreign Exchange have been very reflective and resilient, and his rhymes on Charity Starts At Home carry that same heartiness, with wit and technical flair to boot. "Sendin My Love" sees 'Te investigating others' fears of commitment when he visits a strip club after an argument with his wife, and "The Good Fight" dedicates itself to struggling to survive while chasing their dreams. "Fam in my ear all day, and they yellin'/keep it real 'Te, and don't ever sell out/ but how the fuck you sell out when ain't nobody selling?" the latter song quips. "To Be Yours" and "Gonna Be A Beautiful Night" usher Phonte into full Foreign Exchange mode, as he croons over subdued soundbeds.e.