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Classics Start At Home
on September 29, 2011
"Classic" is a word that is thrown around by hip hop fans pretty often these days in refference to their favorite artists. That being said, I personaly chose to refrain from using the word unless I deem it absolutely appropriate to do so. With the long awaited debute from Phonte, Charity Starts At Home, I do believe that the world has been given a genuine, unblemished CLASSIC.
To me, a "Classic" album required two things: 1) You must be able to listen to it from start to finish without wanting to hit the skip button. 2)The content and lyrics of the songs must be timeless. In my opinion, Phonte manages to satisfy both of these requirements with flying colors.
Basically, this album has three types of songs on it. The first type is the standard braggadocious, lyrical muscle flexing rap that you'll hear from any rapper at some point, the second type is personal songs that give you insight on his life thus far. And man are they personal. the third type are the Foreign Exchange-y love songs. The braggy type songs, like "Dance In The Reign" "Not Here Anymore" "Everything Is Falling Down" "Eternally" and "We Go Off" allow Phonte to display his masterful manipulation of the english language, throwing together metaphors and double meanings that will have you sitting on the rewind button, while also maintaining that air of maturity in his lyrics which is rare to see in most rappers these days. Also in regards to these songs, three of the four of them have features, all of which are excellent choices for the songs they are on. The single, "Not Here Anymore" which features long time affiliate Elzi, is nothing short of a classic in itself.
The other eight songs on the album are all intimate glimpses into Phonte's life and his current mindset. He spends a good amount of time on the topics of relationships, implying he has some serious marital issues going on at the moment. "Sending My Love" talks about how difficult it is to maintain a solid committed relationship in light of the temptations out in the world, summing it all up well with the line "People want what grandma and gradndaddy had/ but they aint have options, we do." On the song "Ball & Chain" Phonte sings about how the woman he loves has become a gift and a curse, keeping him held down and weighing him down all at once. It truly does strike a personal chord for anyone who is married or in a long term relationship, because he's speaking so much truth in it. The chorus of the song is perfect, especially the last lines "So many nights I wish I knew the moment when/ your anchor turned into a ball and chain." Phonte touches on other topics like struggling to provide for a family, reflecting on his turbulent experience in the blue collar working world, and struggles with his and others priorities in life.
And fans of Foreign Exchange, fears not, because Tiggalo has something for you as well. "To Be Yours" and "Gonna Be A Beautiful Night" are fantastic love song tracks (the former is an intro to the latter), smooth and pleasing to the ear in classic Foreign Exchange style, with a feature from Muhsinah.
If I were to find any flaws with this album, it would be that it felt too short. Twelve tracks for an album is a decent amount, but the listening experience is so good that you just don't want it to end at 43 minutes (its about that long). The production is top notch, especially the contributions from 9th Wonder and Nicolay, the lyrics are always on point, and even the whole concept of the album is brought right to the surface for you at the end of the album in case you hadn't already caught onto it. Easily one of the best albums to come out in the last 10 years. 20/5!
Life OF Kings
Ball & Chain
Send MY Love
Not Here Anymore