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Textura reviews Charity Starts At Home

by +FE on October 30, 2011 at 5:12 PM · Comments
In contrast to the crooning balladeer persona Phonte Coleman presented on The Foreign Exchange's recent live outing Dear Friends: An Evening With The Foreign Exchange, his first official solo album Charity Starts At Home spotlights his hip-hop side. More precisely, the recording readjusts the impression established by the recent Foreign Exchange releases to show Phonte as someone equally adept at soulful vocal agility and smooth flow. The twelve-track album pairs him with guest MCs and singers (Elzhi, Median, Pharoahe Monch, Eric Roberson, Evidence and Big K.R.I.T., Carlitta Durand, Sy Smith, and Jeanne Jolly) and with a generous number of producers, too (Swiff D, 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Stro Elliott, Zo!, E. Jones, and S1 and Caleb all take turns behind the desk); in fact, a third of the album is produced by 9th Wonder, Phonte's former Little Brother colleague, who since the hip-hop trio's 2007 split has established himself via production work for artists such as Ludacris and Erykah Badu.

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").

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Off The Shelf #8: Collective Efforts - "Until My Life's Gone (Nicolay Remix)"

by Nicolay on October 20, 2011 at 9:47 AM · Comments
'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

nicolay_cover_f1.jpg 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,
Nicolay

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
2007

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The Smoking Section reviews Charity Starts At Home

by +FE on October 19, 2011 at 5:11 PM · Comments
Maturity and Hip-Hop go hand in hand like a hobo and an almond-shaped bar of Olay yet Phonte Coleman has made an earnest living from being that guy you revere as a professional artist-and turn around and get chummy with at your local pub. The past few years have been exciting for loyal disciples of the the former Little Brother's congregation as he has walked the unbeaten path to musical lore with his rap and blues hybrid, the Grammy-nominated ensemble, The Foreign Exchange. Success breeds regularity but longtime fans will rejoice that their man is putting his mind where his mouth is to spit lessons by way of the rap sage with his meritorious first solo outing, Charity Starts at Home.

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.

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The A.V. Club reviews Charity Starts At Home

by +FE on October 16, 2011 at 2:37 PM · Comments
Phonte of Little Brother came into hip-hop as an idealist fighting for the music's soul. After Little Brother flopped commercially with its major-label debut, The Minstrel Show, he became a pragmatic realist. In a characteristically subversive move, Phonte undercuts the posturing of hip-hop on "Dance In The Reign" from the new Charity Begins At Home by loudly proclaiming he's doing it all for the music, before conceding that he's really doing it just to pay the mortgage and the bills. The rest of Charity Begins At Home is just as refreshingly mature; it's an introspective album about the complexities, hardships, and joys of romantic relationships that go far beyond one-night stands and casual hookups. "Ball & Chain" explores the way the safety and security of monogamy can become smothering and claustrophobic under the wrong circumstances, while "Sendin' My Love" finds Phonte facing down and ultimately overcoming sexual temptation.

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."
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Okayplayer reviews Charity Starts At Home

by +FE on October 4, 2011 at 10:55 AM · Comments
September 13, 2005. The Minstrel Show represented a coming out for Little Brother, the North Carolina trio of 9th Wonder, Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte, even if political wrangling at The Source and BET stifled the album's national promotion, and threatened to mute what many considered an instant hip-hop classic. That's not to absolve the Southern group, as Little Brother's parody of popular black culture certainly didn't help their case. "Guess they wasn't ready for the real on the reel," Pooh quipped on "Curtain Call" from last year's Leftback, Little Brother's final album. Since then, the three men have endured a battery of changes. They disbanded. Then there was the very public dispute over the use of a single, with Phonte and Pooh on one side, and 9th Wonder on the other. The three eventually reconciled, although their Little Brother days were clearly behind them.

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.

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Phonte x 9th Wonder x HipHopDX "Concert Ticket Giveaway"

by Aimee Flint on October 4, 2011 at 10:29 AM · Comments
Enter for a chance to win tickets to see Phonte & 9th Wonder live in concert - tickets are available for Washington DC, New York City, Baltimore and Raleigh/Durham shows during October - The deadline for entry is October 21, 2011.

Click here to enter
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HipHop DX reviews Charity Starts At Home

by +FE on October 3, 2011 at 9:00 PM · Comments
Just when listeners had fully abandoned all remnants of Little Brother, Charity Starts At Home drops. Since the North Carolina rap trio officially announced its breakup in January 2007, it seemed clear where each member was taking his talents: Phonte was nabbing Grammy nominations as one half of the R&B/Soul duo Foreign Exchange, Rapper Big Pooh manned his own solo rap career, and 9th Wonder used his production skills to amplify the sounds of artists like Ludacris and Erykah Badu while helming his Jamla Records. Optimism resurfaced when Phonte and 9th settled their differences, and suddenly we have Charity Starts At Home: Phonte's official solo debut, which features a third of its production by 9th himself. Thankfully, this record holds its weight by rekindling the youthful spirit from Phonte's Little Brother days and pairing it with the maturity from his more recent material.

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.

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Exclaim! reviews Charity Starts At Home

by +FE on October 2, 2011 at 10:04 AM · Comments
"Don't need a new style/Being dope is always in fashion," Phonte intones on "Everything is Falling Down" for good reason. Once you get past the disbelief that Charity Starts at Home is Phonte's first official solo effort, you realize what you're is going to get: cool production, that trademark North Carolina-inflected sharp witted raps and some "New Tigallo" by way of Foreign Exchange styled crooning. To the point, nothing less than what one expects from Phonte. With a twist, however; Phonte brings a newfound maturity to the table, an outlook framed by the dissolution of hip-hop trio Little Brother set next of the Grammy nominated success of R&B/hip-hop outfit Foreign Exchange. "Not Here Anymore" was just the teaser, the acknowledgement of Little Brother alum/producer 9thth Wonder and Phonte's partnership being stronger than ever. As expected, Phonte showcases his vocals (which grow more polished each time out). The short but sweet "We Go Off" features a nice Fatin 10 beat and an always welcome Pharaohe Monch appearance, while tracks like "Everything is Falling Down" wouldn't sound out of place on a Little Brother record. Pulling out the crystal ball, one sees Charity Starts at Home on the year-end best of lists.
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