Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Little Brother's Phonte brings Foreign Exchange to Neighborhood Saturday

It seems like people are drawn to the kind of music they grew up with. I have friends that are still spinning the same Beastie Boys and Ministry records they were listening to in high school. I listened to a lot of `80s R&B growing up and I must admit I love it when I find current R&B that’s reminiscent of that era. I’m not talking a complete throwback, but there's something about that classic, not so self aware approach. Phonte, one of the members of Raleigh-based hip-hop trio Little Brother (who disbanded in 2010) and his musical partner Nicolay marry ideas from `80s R&B to modern electronica and hip-hop production in the Foreign Exchange, who plays Neighborhood Theatre Saturday, September 10.

The Grammy nominated duo (for the single "Daykeeper") met through the online Okayplayer community almost a decade ago. Nicolay was still living in his native Holland. They released their first album together before ever actually meeting in person. Its success allowed Nicolay to relocate to Wilmington and the duo released two more albums including last October’s “Authenticity.”

"Authenticity" is what I imagine a Seal/Portishead collaboration would sound like. Some tracks are much darker and more electronic than others. I think of the title track and “The Last Fall” that close the album, in particular. The videos for those tracks are also sort of slightly racy mini movies with messages, a practice that was common in the `80s. Another aspect I like is that it's electronic-based music, but it has a lot of soul. I think the more traditional R&B elements come through the vocals and phrasing. Guest vocalists include Yahzarah (a former backup singer for Erykah Badu), who sets the tone for the record on the first track, Darien Brockington, Jesse Boykins III, Median, and Chantae Cann.

Phonte also has a new solo album set for release September 27. It's titled "Charity Starts at Home" and you can check out the first the single at http://www.theforeignexchangemusic.com/.

Saturday's concert begins at 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25. 704-358-9298; www.neighborhoodtheatre.com

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