Anyone that knows me, knows that I have a very discriminating ear. I don't care how many times you tell me other wise, Gucci Mane can not rap. I've never really cared who I offend when I make my statement about quality music. There are only a few out here that can even qualify to call themselves emcees. My favorites relevant emcees are (in no particular order) Andre 3000, Black Thought, Jay-Z, Nas, Common, Cee-Lo Green, MF DOOM, Mos Def, Ice Cube and Phonte. Phonte? Yes...Phonte Coleman. Who is Phonte Coleman?
Phonte Coleman, better known as Phonte, is a Grammy nominated rapper/ singer, formerly of the North Carolina trio Little Brother and one-half of the duo The Foreign Exchange. He has also recorded R&B flavored output as a singer (often under the pseudonym Percy Miracles). His rhymes tend to be no-frills perspectives on working-class life. Phonte first met the other members of Little Brother, Rapper Big Pooh and Super producer 9th Wonder (production for Jay-Z, De La Soul, Kanye West, Erykah Badu, Wale, Drake...) in 1998 while attending North Carolina Central University, as an English major. In an interview with MVRemix.com, Phonte explained the origins of his group's name: "Tribe, De La, P.E....were like our big brothers in the game so now we are the little brothers of that movement...carrying on the tradition of good music." The three shared common musical interests and decided to form a group. "Speed", the group's first song recorded together, led to them signing a deal with the independent ABB Records, and recording their debut album, The Listening. The album's success led to the group signing a non-exclusive deal with major label Atlantic Records Atlantic Records.
The group's 2005 album, The Minstrel Show, was a concept album dealing with the current state of hip hop music. The album received with amazing regards and is considered a Hip-Hop classic.. During the recording of their third album, the group announced the departure of producer 9th Wonder on amicable terms, as well as a parting of ways with their label. Through a contractual clause they landed back on ABB Records and released Getback in late 2007.
Phonte has appeared on numerous records by other artists, often as a vocalist. He made a guest appearance on the song "Beats N' Rhymes" from producer Kev Brown's album I Do What I Do, and has also recorded tracks with producer Oddisee, both members of the Washington D.C (DMV)-based Low Budget collective. In 2006, he was featured on producer DJ Shadow's The Outsider album. In the following year he contributed vocals to rap group Playaz Circle's "Paper Chaser", from their album Supply & Demand.
In 2002 Phonte made contact with a Dutch music producer by the name of Nicolay the over message boards on Okayplayer.com and began sending music back and forth. Soon after, Phonte and Nicolay, formed The Foreign Exchange without having ever met each other in person, hence the name The Foreign Exchange.
The album, Connected, was released in 2004 and was a showcase for Nicolay's musical talents as well as an introduction to like-minded Little Brother affiliates who guested on the album. The album received strong reviews and the single, "Sincere" featuring YahZarah, was released with a promo video.
In October 2008, the group released their sophomore album Leave It All Behind. In June 2009, the group announced that Zo! is now an official artist on The Foreign Exchange Music imprint and in November 2009, YahZarah also joined the imprint. Median and Darien Brockington later joined. In December 2009, the group found out that they were nominated for a Grammy, for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the track Daykeeper feat. Muhsinah from their sophomore album, "Leave It All Behind". The group's third album, Authenticity, was released on October 12, 2010. In January 2011, the duo went on tour with Sy Smith and Darien Brockington.
Phonte is one of the most complete artist in the industry. On surface, if I had to compare him to someone to help you understand, I guess it would be Drake (because he can sing, rap and is witty). The difference in Phonte and Drake is Phonte's music is extremely grounded, meaning anyone can relate to his writing. Instead of boasting about his talents and exploits, he gives you an honest, non-judgmental look into his experiences. For this I am forever grateful. Did I mention, he is hilarious (watch the video below).
Join Old SOUL Entertainment as we welcome Phonte / The Foreign Exchange to Indy, Live in Concert. For tickets, please visit: AuthenticityTour2011IndianapolisMay6.Eventbrite.com/