12 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Best known for his work with Little Brother and the cross-continental collabo project The Foreign Exchange, North Carolina emcee Phonte is a superstar in the underground despite never breaking through to the mainstream rap universe. While he's built a deep resume over the past 10 years, Charity Starts at Home is his first solo album, and it's a winner. As is his usual M.O., the lyrics focus on real-life, everyman issues, rejecting played-out gangster clichés and highlife fantasies in favor of more relatable tales. Simple but strong drums, thick bass lines, and nicely chopped loops make up the bulk of the production, with four tracks provided by his old LB running buddy 9th Wonder. "To Be Yours" and "Gonna Be a Beautiful Night" showcase his impressive crooning skills, "The Good Fight" addresses the economy and the working stiff’s daily grind, and "Ball and Chain" is a dedication to his wife. Guest spots are limited and high-quality, with strong features coming from Elzi (on the single "Not Here Anymore") and Pharoahe Monch ("We Go Off"), plus Evidence and Big K.R.I.T. on "The Life of Kings." 

EDITORS’ NOTES

Best known for his work with Little Brother and the cross-continental collabo project The Foreign Exchange, North Carolina emcee Phonte is a superstar in the underground despite never breaking through to the mainstream rap universe. While he's built a deep resume over the past 10 years, Charity Starts at Home is his first solo album, and it's a winner. As is his usual M.O., the lyrics focus on real-life, everyman issues, rejecting played-out gangster clichés and highlife fantasies in favor of more relatable tales. Simple but strong drums, thick bass lines, and nicely chopped loops make up the bulk of the production, with four tracks provided by his old LB running buddy 9th Wonder. "To Be Yours" and "Gonna Be a Beautiful Night" showcase his impressive crooning skills, "The Good Fight" addresses the economy and the working stiff’s daily grind, and "Ball and Chain" is a dedication to his wife. Guest spots are limited and high-quality, with strong features coming from Elzi (on the single "Not Here Anymore") and Pharoahe Monch ("We Go Off"), plus Evidence and Big K.R.I.T. on "The Life of Kings." 

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3:54
3:09
3:37
3:49
4:37
3:33
3:56
1:32
3:44
2:29
3:27
5:07

About Phonte

While platinum certifications have eluded Phonte Coleman, he has built one of the richest and most consistent discographies in post-millennial hip-hop and R&B. The Greensboro, North Carolina native established himself in Little Brother, a Native Tongues-inspired trio that developed into the leading alternative rap act of the 2000s. Coleman became known for casually clever wordplay that projected vivid realism with rare depth and sharp humor. While the group was still thriving, he and Dutch multi-instrumentalist/producer Nicolay established the Foreign Exchange, who debuted with the accomplished multi-genre synthesis Connected (2004) and made a convincing shift into moody, left-of-center R&B with Leave It All Behind (2008). Among the latter album's highlights was "Daykeeper," a spine-chilling ballad on which Coleman shared lead vocals with Muhsinah. The song was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Urban/Alternative Performance, a validation of Coleman's artistic diversification.

After the disbandment of Little Brother and the release of the Foreign Exchange's third album, Coleman issued his first solo album, Charity Starts at Home (2011). Featuring a handful of cuts produced by fellow LB alum 9th Wonder, it debuted at number seven on the Billboard rap chart. One factor in its high placement was possibly Drake, who had recently dedicated his BMI Songwriter of the Year Award to his inspirations: larger-than-life superstars Kanye West and André 3000, and the comparatively under-the-radar Coleman. Through the mid-2010s, Coleman's abundant and evolving output with Nicolay remained his primary outlet as he continued to work beside fellow Foreign Exchange family members, including YahZarah and Zo!, as a songwriter, producer, and guest vocalist. Meanwhile, he also continued to stack appearances on tracks by other artists, including the Roots, Robert Glasper, and Kaytranada. He was especially productive across 2015 and 2016, a period that entailed a fifth Foreign Exchange studio release, contributions to solo albums by Nicolay and Zo!, and the creation of Tigallerro, a full-length collaboration with longtime associate Eric Roberson. Behind the scenes, Coleman wrote verses for characters, including one he portrayed in The Breaks, a VH-1 TV movie that developed into a series. ~ Andy Kellman

  • ORIGIN
    Greensboro, NC
  • BORN
    29 Dec 1978

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