The Foreign Exchange-Call It Home/Pity

New material from this duo will always make my day. They drop the Love In Flying Colors album on 24th September, and this lead single, with it’s non-album B-side, make for a great start.

Call It Home is a smooth slice of R&B/soul, opening in a delicate manner that combines Nicolay’s airy, gentle synths with soft piano touches to good effect. The track bursts into life by throwing a quick yet relatively understated percussion line underneath the aforementioned melodic elements, along with a sharper synth line that adds a lively electronic edge. Phonte’s vocals are wonderfully mellow throughout, playing off the relaxed elements well whilst tempering the more upbeat pieces of the production, rounding off the track nicely.

Pity, the B-side, is a much more consistently laidback affair. The backdrop contains very little percussion for the first two-thirds, meandering along at an easy pace via synths that create a night time vibe, but with a cold, atmospheric edge- compared to the above track, it’s much more structured and less dynamic, and hence it allows Phonte’s vocal and lyrical work to be spotlighted a little more, which is wise given its rather emotional nature. TFE have a habit of making music that suits winter excellently, and with those cold months drawing near, these two fit the bill brilliantly. That album can’t come soon enough.

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The Foreign Exchange-So What If It Is

So What If It Is” is The Foreign Exchange’s new single from their “+FE Music: The Reworks” remix compilation. Spanning 2 discs, the set features remixes from Nicolay, Zo! 4hero, ?uestlove & James Poyser, and serves as a primer for The Foreign Exchange’s long-awaited 4th LP, Love In Flying Colors.

One of my go-to acts when I’m in a new music dry period, and they solve both problems with some brand new work. The production’s distinctly more electro-infused than their previous works, combining uptempo percussion with bright synths and lively electronic samples, whilst Phonte’s vocals are certainly uplifting throughout. His lyricism still retains a touch of bittersweetness for that grounded quality, and this is a nice change of pace from their usual works that comes off very well. Maintaining a sense of chillout within the otherwise busy backdrop, Nicolay’s served up a production that hovers a line that’s so difficult to master, and the overall combination is a likeable effort that sets their forthcoming projects up nicely.

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Phonte-Gonna Be A Beautiful Night ft. Carlitta Durand (Video)

Without question this was my favourite track from Phonte’s Charity Starts At Home album, released almost exactly a year ago. An easy one to miss for casual fans, but don’t miss it this time.

The influence his work with The Foreign Exchange has had on him is at its most evident throughout this one, particularly in the production. The beat is laidback and wintery, combining soft and meandering synths with relatively sharp percussion for a clash of styles that works nicely. The combination of vocals from Phonte and Carlitta adds a warmth and depth to the atmospheric production, moulding that beat into something less ‘cold’ and more into a vital component of what is a relaxing and sultry soul/R&B track. Carlitta’s vocals in particular work as a nice break between Phonte’s singing and rapping, giving the track some diversity.

The visual further enhances the relatability of the track, with initimate nighttime scenes and performance close-ups combining for a very human and down-to-earth audiovisual. A great track that would have probably escaped your attention initially. Don’t let it happen again: iTunes.

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OTU Presents: The Winter EP: Volume 1

My love of ‘winter music’ has been far from secret here on OTU, and several discussions with music fans of various tastes have led me to believe many OTU readers share that appreciation.

We’re all about satisfying the fans, so welcome to our new 5-part feature. Each edition features a selection of tracks that are taior made for the dark winter period, and in keeping with OTU’s diversity code, expect some old tracks, some modern tracks, with a vast range of genres represented (in no particular order either; for example, Vol. 1 doesn’t necessarily have all of the best tracks!)

Just to really drive those frosty vibes home, we’ll even provide you with fresh, original artwork for each ‘EP’ for you to download at your pleasure and finish off those playlists. Kind aren’t we? Without further ado, click below for 5 tracks to get your winter started.
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9th Wonder, Phonte and Median-Band Practice

It’s slipped under the radar slightly, largely due to the recent barrage of mainstream hip-hop releases, but 27th September sees the release of 9th Wonder’s latest album, The Wonder Years. Boasting some fantastic features to accompany his consistent yet extremely diverse productions, it looks to be an album that real hip-hop dedicates will thoroughly enjoy, and a taster is offered here with the short and enjoyable Band Practice.

Phonte’s having a real purple patch at the minute, and he opens this track with his much-loved sense of humour on show (referencing a rather popular Youtube vide0!), following it up with another memorable verse as he throws a little aggression into his style for a nice show of versatility. Median does a good job with his own verse, whilst 9th serves up a slick, soulful production with an addictive percussion and mesmerising sample.

9th Wonder-Band Practice ft. Phonte and Median

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Phonte and Elzhi-Not Here Anymore

New material from Phonte, taken from his upcoming album Charity Starts At Home, and he grabs one of Detroit’s finest in Elzhi for the assist here.

A track full of interesting blends too, repeatedly pulling together a few musical dichotomies for a diverse and engaging listen; The smooth, soft vibes in the synth and samples mesh cleverly with a thudding, hypnotising percussion, the relatable, realistic raps combine cleanly with the soulful, daydreamy (that’s not a word) hook, and Phonte’s more laidback rapping style contrasts nicely with Elzhi’s sharper delivery. It’s an apt representation of Phonte’s own versatility and eclecticism, as the various styles he’s encountered throughout his career with Little Brother, The Foreign Exchange and other projects appear to each have injected influence here, and it certainly gets hopes high for the upcoming album.

Phonte-Not Here Anymore ft. Elzhi

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R&B Fridays: Episode 114

Undoubtedly, the highlight of this week’s R&B content has already been delivered, with the hugely-anticipated release of The Weeknd’s second project, Thursday. There’s also new music from upcoming UK singer Chrome, dropping off an energetic single for his latest video.

Very diverse episode this week, with some mainstream pop, old-school style soul and the usual R&B fare all made available for your listening pleasure, and plenty of big names providing that content. Click below to fill yourself with R&B nourishment.

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The Foreign Exchange-The Last Fall Video

Undoubtedly my favourite track from their Authenticity album, this is one video that is absolutely worth watching irrespective of your opinion (or probable lack thereof) on their music.

Working with a track that combines an uplifting production with introspective, reflective lyrics, the video goes in an entirely different direction with a progressively uneasy vibe that details the unravelling of a besotted man. The story is extremely captivating throughout, as the lead male’s obsessiveness and addiction slowly consume more of his daily life, and drives him to a shocking conclusion.

Despite its seeming incongruence with the original vibe of the lyrics, it can be interpreted in various ways. The relationship between the two may represent love itself, in two different processes: either attempting to recover from heartbreak perenially ‘stalking’, until it finally destroys you, or attempting to find love but without success, and internally abandoning the thought/concept entirely. Definitely worth a watch, on both a surface level and if you’re a bit weird like me and want to go a bit deeper! Don’t miss out on that Authenticity album.

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Pharoahe Monch-Black Hand Side ft. Styles P & Phonte

Another drop from Pharoahe’s anticipated W.A.R. album dropping March 22nd on Duck Down Records.

Mellow production with a soulful chorus provided by Phonte sets up a simple East Coast anthem for The Ghost and Monch to drop some street wisdom. Monch may no longer be on his erratic, Organized Konfusion tip anymore, but still has plenty to offer this industry with his subject matter.

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The Foreign Exchange-Authenticity Video

Massive fan of their recent album, and picking the title track as their next video is definitely a good choice. The track itself can be best categorised as ‘night time music’, and much like the rest of the album the light synths synergise with Phonte’s relaxing vocals to create a smooth, extremely replayable piece of soul/hip-hop crossover music.

The video is very enjoyable too, following a man around who seemingly can’t escape his promiscuous tendencies, despite having flashes of thoughts and desires to do so. It’s this schizophrenic nature that makes the audio-visual a compelling effort, and the video certainly fleshes out the audio with a torn character clearly displaying the nuances of the lyrics.

Nice twist at the end too, and this is one you should definitely check out for both the track and the video.

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The Foreign Exchange-Maybe She'll Dream Of Me

First off, buy their album Authenticity right now. It’s another fantastic effort, and probably just as good as Leave It All Behind. The addictive blend of soul, hip-hop and chillout is absolutely irreplicable and a great listen at this time of year.

Their music has always had a very seasonal, naturalistic feel and that’s well represented in this video with dream scenes taking place in a variety of natural environments. Phonte’s raps tend to add a slight urban sensibility, and that too is represented appropriately by relevant scenery. The highlight for me would be the first verse, which reflects the lyrical messages into the video well by visualing Phonte’s pride issues with sand entrapment creating a distance between his loved one and himself.

Decent video for a very good song. Audio can be grabbed here, and I fully recommend buying this album!

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The Foreign Exchange-Maybe She'll Dream Of Me

Shortly after announcing details of their upcoming album, Phonte and Nicolay let loose of the first official single from Authenticity. I hope by now you’ve taken the time to get familiar with them, because I’m going to be pushing the hell out of this project, such was the strength of their last album.

This track picks up from where the aforementioned album left off, delivering a slow, contemplative and easygoing production that allows Phonte’s ever-versatile vocals to cross those R&B/soul/hip-hop boundaries seamlessly. Lyrically, the track has a frank honesty that is admirable, highlighted by the insecurity and vulnerability of the hopeful hook.

The key of their music that keeps me coming back is the knack for making music that is uniquely seasonal: it tends to evoke images of autumn (fall) and winter, which comfortably lets you drift away with your thoughts, and all without being remotely depressive. A rare blend that is nothing short of a great experience.

The Foreign Exchange-Maybe She’ll Dream Of Me

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The Foreign Exchange Announce Authenticity Album

Very, very excited about this album. Their previous effort, Leave It All Behind, was without question one of the albums of 2008 and still gets playtime to this very day. The immensely original and versatile blend of chillout, R&B, hip-hop, electronic and soul made for a fantastic body of work and is essential listening.

The new album is due out in October, almost exactly 2 years to the day the previous album was released. The tracklist can be viewed after the click: for fans of LIAB, you’ll be pleased with the features as they include a couple of the features on that album.

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Rhymefest and Phonte Release Hip-Hop’s First 3D Video

Day by day, my respect for ‘Fest grows. He’s genuinely an innovative guy, and this video cements that belief. Always looking to push boundaries, this is undoubtedly something we will be seeing more of.

The visuals are not alone in building hype for El Che though, as track itself is actually rather good too. Liking the beat, loving Phonte’s hook and I’m beginning to gradually appreciate Rhymefest’s unique flow.

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An All-Star Track To Enjoy

No idea who, or what, a Kida is but he’s gone and grabbed some of hip-hop’s biggest and best for a pretty nice track. The track samples the famous ‘Holla!’ from Missy Elliott’s Get Your Freak On, and is a likeable joint. Definitely worth picking up on the strength of the features alone.

Kida-Holla! Remix Ft.  Busta Rhymes, Little Brother, Kurupt, Crooked I, Talib Kweli, Jay Rock & Willie B

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Underground Hip-Hop Part 8

The latest instalment of everyone’s favourite hip-hop series is back. Once again, we give some new artists the spotlight to deliver some nice slices of fresh hip-hop. There are of course some familiar names too, so go ahead and hit that click.

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A Bundle of Goods

A bundle of joy, if you will.

Click below to pick up tracks from N*E*R*D, Royce Da 5’9″, the new Fallout Boy single and more. I’ve also thrown in a couple of tracks that I’d skipped over/forgotten to put up previously, so grab those too. Alright? Good.

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