label: bbe
production: nicolay
guests: yahzarah, critically acclaimed, big pooh of little brother, oddissee, kenn starr, darien brockington, others.
year of release: 2004
1. Foreign Exchange Title Theme
2. Von Sees
3. Raw Life
4. Hustle Hustle
5. Let's Move
6. Nic's Groove
7. Be Alright
8. Sincere
9. Brave New World
10. The Answer
11. Come Around
12. Happiness
13. Foreign Exchange End Theme
14. All That You Are
So says Wyclef: "I wear my sunglasses at night / to spy on my girlfriend, that's right / they dancin', romancin', freakin' at night / yes, yes, yes, a yes, yes y'all." And when you wear those glasses at night, make sure you listen to the sounds of Foreign Exchange. This is perfect night music. Not much worse during the day, but none the less perfect music to be played in gloomy lights. And you'll not have to 'spy on your girlfriend,' because she's right here with you, agreeing with the vibe, pouting her lips, sinking into your arms as much as into the music.
Oh what a corny little beginning to a review that's about a never corny album. But let's assume for a second that your girl does not like rap. Rap is loud, violent, repetitive, too damn macho and she does not find herself in the lyrics, nor in the vibes of the music. What's in many ways a contradiction to what Brother ?uestlove once said in an interview this humble scribe did with the man: "if you wanna sell a lot of units, you need to make music that women enjoy. Because a) the women will buy it too, and b) the men buy what the women like." (this is paraphrased) He said that around 1997 or so. Now, considering what has changed since then, you might wonder how accurate this statement still is.
But for the sake of argument, let's say that the random girl does not like rap. But chances are good she'll like this album. Especially if said girl likes good music, and essentially, that's what this album is; a whole lot of good music.
It's still questionable why the label 'Nu Soul' is forced on this release though. Of course there's a lot of singing and soul in here. But that's only noteworthy, because apparently a lot of other rap does not have soul. And sure, this music often enough does sound composed and does so much more than loop things, sample things, use wack synthesizers. It comes smoother than almond silk shower gel. But is it Soul. Hell nah.
Even if "Come Around" is basically R'n'B. Or even if one of the sleeper hits "Sincere" opens with Yahzarah singing. There's still Phonte rhyming later on. And speaking of Phonte, we haven't even introduced you to the troupe yet: So, behind the mic is Phonte, from Little Brother fame and behind the boards is Nicolay who by the way is from the Netherlands. And they recorded the album without ever meeting each other, etc. blah blah blah. As if that is important. It's not like this is the first record where the producer never met the rapper. If anything, this trivia is only of importance, because it is incredible how great the two's arts match and are combined.
Besides the outstanding beats, Phonte's lyrics are just as noteworthy. He breaks it down to regular dude's concerns. This is not about no super heroes, super thugs, super pimps, super holier than thou self righteous whoevers. This is about you and me and your neighbor and not even about our and their big stories, but just the daily routines. It's about that and it's about the love expressed, be it for rap on "Be Alright" - a very funky tune - or be it on the family, the friends, the girl, life, everything, and yes even the bigger picture on "Brave New World". But hey, don't get it twisted though: you'll also get the necessary battle verse here and there also. And everything is a pleasure to listen to.
And when the record moves into a tad of house music on "Foreign Exchange End Theme", we're back at the beginning again. This just sounds great at night. And music that works at night is capable of filling spaces, of adding a different kind of something to all that the night is lacking. And even if this review is more a discussion about the current state of rap music than a proper review, you can only hope that this album will change the current state of rap music. Even though many want to keep rap this childish, only for the young bucks party music, there's many growing-old guys that don't want to leave rap behind. This album will allow 'em to stay 'connected.'
review: tadah
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