The new FE album “Authenticity” clocks in at a polished eleven tracks, with the memorable “Everything must go” starting off with a synthesizer melody that hypnotizes from start to finish. “This city ain’t the same without you” utilizes fan favorite Yazarah’s vocals. MTV picking up “The Ballad of Purple St. James’” first video for rotation is as just a much a testament to the FE+ label, as is the newest tight knit ZO! full length. Nicolay’s solo catalog continues to develop over time, and “Don’t Wait” provides the proof Darrien Brockington’s eventual solo album is long deserved. I have no doubt we’ll see a rise in notoriety of all of the artists in the collective in the not so distant future.
From the pre-Grammy brunch at the opening of W hotel in Hollywood earlier this year, ribbing Garth Trinidad for his signature on air vocal style, to the Little Brother in-store at Fat Beats LA (R.I.P) winning over the crowd, you have to witness the live energy of Phonte Coleman first hand. If only he and the Foreign Exchange was getting their own late night show on TBS instead of Conan O’Brien. I’d pay to see FE play Jimmy Fallon just to have the Roots as the backing band behind the hit single “Maybe She’ll Dream of Me”. I mentioned it in the review of their live show at the Roxy Theatre a couple months back, but hearing Tigallo’s comedic rendition of the origins behind Trey Songz’s “I invented sex” was definitely the first time I laughed out loud during an R&B concert. “I had a beaker! And it was bubbling! I wore my lab coat to the patent office and-” I was dying so hard at my table; I couldn’t take decent photographs that night. Still hands down one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen in my life. The endless jokes and patois heavy impromptu covers left just as strong an impression as the production on the brisk “Eyes to the Sky“.
Ironically, I couldn’t help but notice “Authenticity” is selling higher on iTunes than Trey Songz latest disc last time I checked, and Aloe Blacc’s on Amazon. What I realized listening to this studio masterpiece is that Phonte, Dwele, and Aloe Blacc are all former MC’s with new grown and sexy albums out this year worth purchasing. Whether over Nicolay’s live ebony and ivory tickling, Khrysis on the boards with the heat, vintage Jay Dilla, Exile, these three respective albums are all brilliant departures from the mainstream offerings of late. As I mature though too I go to less and less artist showcases, the late nights huddling in the cipher after events is rare, when it used to go down every time. The ending of “All roads” harkens back to “Something to behold“, in that it gives off a live feel with just a bombardment of beats akin to “Leave it all behind” and Common’s opus “Electric Circus” I can’t ever grow tired of. The Netherlands to North Carolina’s never felt so close together.