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by +FE on October 5, 2006 at 12:00 AM ·
In 2004, The Foreign Exchange, consisting of North Carolina emcee Phonte and Dutch producer Nicolay, delivered the highly sensual Connected, an album that matched introspective lyricism with beats that defied simplicity. Fashioned through an Internet medium, Connected was based on more than just a solid idea; the tracks represented a true chemistry, as the album moved with the sweeping emotions of a '70s soul record re-contextualized into a modern hip-hop sound. Phonte, then known for his work with Little Brother, was ideally categorized as the backpacking type: wholly expressive and witty, yet accessible and jaunty. His beatmaking counterpart possessed what was needed to smooth the record into a gorgeous plane: musical emotiveness and vulnerability. As a result, Connected was an injection of non-portentous hip-hop whose freshness emanated through the clouds of forgettable underground nothings.

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