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4.6 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 24, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

BBE Records are proud to announce the release of the Connected album from The Foreign Exchange. This album will reconnect your love affair with Hip-Hop!

As cliché as it sounds, music does have the ability to bring people of various background and ethnicities together. Think not? Witness Connected, the debut album from the Foreign Exchange. North Carolina-raised MC Phonte, one-third of Little Brother, and Dutch producer Nicolay formed the duo and crafted the ethereally lush hip-hop album without ever meeting face-to-face. Using the marvels of modern technology, the group traded verses and tracks over the Internet. The result is anything but mechanical. Nicolay crafts soulful, intricate backdrops that draw comparisons to producers Pete Rock and Kanye West. On the appropriately titled "Nic's Groove," the producer crafts a pitch-perfect midtempo track over which Phonte and Little Brother cohort Big Pooh trade verses. Phonte also enlists a host of upcoming artists to guest on the set. The group's MC teams with newcomer Median on the emotional "Be Alright." While Median holds his own, Phonte is in full command with a personal lyric about dealing with the ups and downs of everyday life. Meanwhile, "Sincere," which features R&B songstress YahZarah, will have listeners falling in love with hip-hop and each other all over again. Connected is a prime example of the power of good music uniting different worlds. Maybe our elected officials could take a page out of the book of the Foreign Exchange. --Lincoln Smith

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Title Theme
  2. Von Sees
  3. Raw Life
  4. Hustle Hustle
  5. Let's Move
  6. Nic's Groove
  7. Be Allright
  8. Sincere
  9. Brave New World
  10. The Answer
  11. Come Around
  12. Happiness
  13. End Theme
  14. All That You Are
  15. Be All Right Remix
  16. Call
  17. Downtime Remix

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 24, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Bbe
  • ASIN: B0001ZMWWI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,956 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

If a rap record can be "pretty", this one is.

With rapper Phonte (one third of the very good group Little Brother) on the mic and Dutch producer Nicolay on the beats, this record really soars. The music is VERY Jay-Dee-esque, to the point of almost sounding like the nicer Slum Village stuff, but with more spread. The influences are apparent in some cases, but even a Prince-like track makes the cut and the album has great sonic range and depth. It's lush, atmospheric and chock-ful of great ear candy that makes you wonder what the heck is in Netherland's water.

The lyrical content ranges as well, but it's certainly not out of line to suggest that it's a feel-good record. Lots of references here to love and relationships (even the cover has a couple kissing on it in the rays of the dipping sun) and stories of a maturing person, and not the jaded rapper style we've all just about heard enough of.

With some keyboards playing, singing and mad arrangements that are allowed to breathe as they unfold, "Connected" does exactly what it implies: plugs you in to the bigger picture of life and what's important.
Comment 22 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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The Foreign Exchange is not just the collaborated efforts of Phonte and Nicolay, but their ability to bring together a host of talents. Phonte does not rap on every track (in fact he only raps on 10) but he certainly is responsible for the album as a whole, taking on executive producer role, finding the talent and having 9th Wonder mix down some of the beats.

I always have trouble in trying to describe the production of Nocolay. Many of his beats sound like they use elements of The Nutcracker Suit or Pete and The Wolf (I'm not sure that helps a lot of people out). They are smooth, well laid out tracks, yet far from any other hip-hop production I've herd.

The beat for Title Theme gives you a pretty good feel for the kind of production that is going to follow in the rest of the album.

Vons Sees is a track featuring a short rhyme by, well Von Pea and unfortunately is forgettable. The real album starts on Raw Life when Phote finally drops over a head nodding beat. Joe Scudda also contributes the second verse and comes off pretty well. But, a distorted Phonte comes back on the track to rip it up ("I speak with no prejudice/ You thought kissing ass was in my blood type, O Negative").

Hustle, Hustle is another well produced track, the chorus with some infectious jazzy horns. This track features Critically Acclaimed, Phote only can be herd in the background of the chorus. The group holds there own, but the beat hear steals the show.

Let's Move is a Little Brother union of Big Pooh and Phonte, as well as the following track Nic's Groove, which not surprisingly enough is one of the better tracks. The two mesh perfectly together over Nicolay's beats just as well as they do over 9th Wonder's.
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Let's start with the flaws on this album. Be Alright (Remix) and Downtime (Remix) were unecessary. And anyone who dislikes hip-hop/R&B collabos ("Sincere") will probably have a hard time getting into this. Aside from these minor blips, however, "Connected" is one of the few hip-hop albums that is truly universal in its essence. Nicolay's beats have a worldly sound to them that I don't ever recall hearing on an entire hip-hop album. As well, he is able to mimic the sounds of notable producers such as Jay Dee ("Let's Move"), Hi-Tek ("Hustle") and Pete Rock ("Happiness") while crafting his own sound ("Nic's Groove," "Raw Life" "The Answer"). Lyrically, Phonte parties ("Nic's Groove"), prays ("Be Alright") and preaches ("Brave New World") while giving the rest of the Justus League significant mic time ("Von Sees," "Hustle" and "Come Around" don't feature Phonte at all). Fans of positive hip-hop artists such as Gift of Gab, Talib Kweli, and KRS-One, as well as those who appreciate the "out-there" creativity celebrated by OutKast, De La Soul, and The Roots, will enjoy, if not love "Connected." 4.5 Stars.
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...well it's here in its full glory. Phonte, one half of the dynamic North Carolina rap duo Little Brother, has teamed up with Dutch producer Nicolay to create a masterpiece of music. Jazz fusion with hip hop and R&B at its finest, this CD can be used for everything from getting a party started to a session of massage therapy. Seriously! It's just that diverse.

I'm a fan of everything from Scarface to Talib Kweli, and this CD deserves to mentioned in the same breath with anthing either of those artists have released. Guest appearances include neosoul singer Yahzarah, Big Pooh, and various members of the Justus League crew (who have won regular praise from Hiphopsite and OkayPlayer). Highlights include the first single, "All That You Are," which will break your neck, and...well...the entire album. There's nothing on here I can really say anything bad about.

What makes this CD most amazing is that the entire thing was recorded without Nicolay or Phonte ever meeting. Nicolay sent Phonte beats over the Internet and they made it happen like that. Fans of the Roots, De La Soul, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Blackalicious and like artists will be pleasantly suprised.
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Definitely one of the most-slept on albums
the beat from lets move sounds familiar, is it from swan lake or something??? its one of my favorite beats ever though, nice job nicolay
Nov 15, 2006 by Quasimoto |  See all 2 posts
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