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Authenticity

The Foreign Exchange

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Album Review

The Foreign Exchange family’s third 2010 release, following YahZarah's The Ballad of Purple St. James and Zo!'s SunStorm, Authenticity is the third proper album from the flagship act helmed by Nicolay and Phonte. It’s somehow more lush and downcast than 2008’s Leave It All Behind, frequently dipping into an alluring type of despondent heartache that is improbably soothing. Opening with an eerie intro similar to that of the Grammy-nominated “Daykeeper,” Authenticity promptly gets to the black heart of the matter: “Loved you good, and you wrote our heartbreak in the sky.” Phonte, whose singing voice is equally resigned and penetrating, lets loose a torrent of Hear, My Dear-worthy bombs, like “Love is at worst an excuse/At best it’s a truce/So what is the use?” The song’s tremulous, synthesizer-laced production would have fit on Nicolay’s City Lights, Vol. 2: Shibuya, had Nicolay experienced a crippling loss during the trip that inspired that album. The following slow-motion title track, rhythmically resembling warped Purple Rain-era Prince, furthers the album’s theme of pouring everything into a relationship despite being aware of the futility. Here, Phonte is in full soul-baring confession mode: “She’s all that I could dream, but she tears me apart.” A couple significant songs detour from bad-lover territory, though they could be re-sequenced to seem more like chronological scenes from a relationship in gradual decay. “Maybe She’ll Dream of Me,” sweet and percolating, is a light song in the best sense, but in the context of all the heartache, one gets the overriding notion that it’s more about pursuing something that could only be too good to be true. “Make Me a Fool,” as in “I’m not asking you to be an angel/Just don’t ever make me a fool,” seems to sense the inevitable in spite of its guard dropping. More moody, modern R&B that sounds like nothing else and reveals remarkable depth (there’s even a little well-placed twang and some violin), Authenticity is neither an everyday nor an every-day album, unless playing it is necessary for the sake of convalescence.

Customer Reviews

'Authenticity'

I am truly honoured to be the first one writing a review on this highly anticipated album, been a fan of these guys since their '04 debut Connected and since then they have just got better and better introducing new upcoming artist like Darien Brockington and Muhsinah. Their smooth mix of hip hop/neo soul/electronica/R&B/soul sound is abSOULutely genius and can be compared to no other. Phontes soft harmonious vocal on top of Nicolays jazzy beats has yet again created another brilliant album, the title says it all.

Yes! What a return to form

Connected was fantastic, leave it all behind seemed to do just that (it was a bit lacking in my opinion) but this is a true return to form! Bargain price too, lovely stuff. Phonte truly is a great singer, I'd like to hear more raps though if I'm bring honest! The beats are all lovely, the singing is beautiful, just buy it.....now

Amazing album, soul r&b is still ALIVE!

Timeless. Fantastic. Amazing. A really really great album! This group is trailblazing the scene at the minute, I love the fact they are not scared to try new sounds and beats. You need this in your life!! 

Biography

Formed: 2002 in Raleigh, NC

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Representative of how the Internet can aid in creating music, the Foreign Exchange started when Little Brother rapper Phonte heard a beat on Okayplayer.com by Dutch producer Nicolay and asked if he could lay some vocals over it. Nicolay agreed, and the song "Light It Up" appeared shortly after as the B-side to Little Brother's 2002 single "Whatever You Say." Relying mainly on instant messaging and email, the duo continued to work together, with Nicolay sending beats to Phonte, who would add vocals...
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Authenticity, The Foreign Exchange
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