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Leave It All Behind

The Foreign Exchange

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Album Review

The second Foreign Exchange album reverses the rapping/singing split of the first. Not only is Leave It All Behind much more an R&B album than 2004's Connected — it's more an R&B album than a lot of modern releases filed in that section, given that Phonte slips into MC mode only twice while otherwise putting his sensitive singing voice to full use. Even more nuanced and textured, and therefore more musical than Connected, Leave It All Behind is a concise and complete set of songs that brings out the best of both producer Nicolay and Phonte. More than ever, Nicolay's mellow but moving productions have that lingering, memory-triggering effect mastered by the late J Dilla, and a multitude of shades is cast: dreamy folk-soul that ranks with the Beauty Room and latter-day 4hero, lean and contemporary constructions that would fit within any adult-oriented R&B station's playlist, deceptively frictional backdrops that bridge hip-hop to West London broken beat, and even the intermittent unclassifiable moment, with several styles thrown into swirls of crescendo-enhanced dramatics. Joined by Connected accomplices Darien Brockington and YahZarah (her lead turn on "If She Breaks Your Heart" sounds even more like a lost Stevie/Minnie collaboration than the Jungle Fever soundtrack original), as well as Muhsinah (an earthbound Georgia Anne Muldrow), Phonte does not deliver knockouts, yet he is not out of his depth and never reaches beyond his grasp, exuding warmth and sincerity as effectively as anyone praised for inhuman range. Even when his lyrics deal in the less complicated aspects of relationships, his voice provides a gently bittersweet tint, as a man with his guard down whose articulations are neither reactionary nor based on some false posture. And with love as its core rather than impulsive lust, as well as its unified feel, the album is not just a unique and exceptional R&B album but also a soundtrack or means of communication — when heat-of-the-moment resentment, a lump in the throat, or anxious longing get in the way — for a real-life adult relationship.

Customer Reviews

Studies Of Nature in Music Tapestry....

Hey...I don't even get into Male Vocalists that much. But this recording is so beautifully produced and musically arranged, I didn't care--and that speaks volumes. What I mean is, this recording has somehow transcended my personal experience in music a bit. The musical nuances and changes in tone and octaves combined with the smooth and natural voices of Darien Brockington, Muhsinah and Yahzarah knits a intricate texture of mood. Somewhat like a more soulful Zero7, The Male Vocals are highlighted here in a most beautiful way. Void of presumption, they provide a crisp and oceanic atmosphere while the Female Vocals are drifting happily in reverie. This is definately breath of fresh air from what we have always traditionally known as "NEO SOUL"....it is also just plain good music. So when the leaves are turning in late afternoon and the Sun sets in burnt orange spilling apple cider into your living room...turn this on and catch a vibe...

maybe I'm biased but uh.....

Yeah, fam.

Finally!!!!!

This is not Hip Hop. It's music. Forget Hip Hop! This album makes me wanna leave it all behind.

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...
Full Bio
Leave It All Behind, The Foreign Exchange
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Customer Ratings

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