Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Foreign Exchange

The Foreign Exchange first "met" in mid-2002, when Phonte (who resides in North Carolina and is also a member of the underground rap trio Little Brother), heard some of Nicolay’s music online and asked to rhyme over one of his tracks. When Big Pooh of Little Brother, lent his vocals to the track, the song became "Light It Up," and was featured as a B-side single for the group’s acclaimed 2003 effort, The Listening. "Nic was sending me some of the most beautiful stuff I’d ever heard in my life," Phonte says emphatically. "They inspired me so much that I just had to do something over them." The end result is Connected, a gorgeous and reflective blend of hip-hop, R&B, and electronic soul.

While Phonte serves as the duo’s main vocalist, the group is quick to point out that Connected is not a "Phonte solo album," and is instead an ensemble record with Nicolay and Phonte acting as the project’s conductors. With guest shots from up and comers Critically Acclaimed on the churchy, organ-driven "Hustle, Hustle," and neo-soul songstress Yahzarah contemplating lost love over the melancholy vocal harmonies of "Sincere," Connected finds Nicolay and his multi-talented counterpart uniting artists from different genres under a united theme of good music.

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