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Album review: The Foreign Exchange’s ‘Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey’

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Little Brother emcee Phonte Coleman and Dutch producer Nicolay are The Foreign Exchange.
Courtesy
Mike Pizzo

Four stars

The Foreign Exchange Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey

As the story goes, about a decade ago Little Brother emcee Phonte Coleman began sending R&B vocals to Dutch producer Nicolay, and they became The Foreign Exchange. What started as a side project for Phonte has become his main bread and butter, now six albums deep, and on Tales From the Land of Milk & Honey the two continue to churn out smooth, vibey neo-soul in a post-R. Kelly landscape. Their brand of crispy, clean R&B sounds different than what dominates the radio, although Drake has called Phonte “his favorite rapper.” Songs like “As Fast as You Can” and “Disappear” pull influence from Prince and Stevie Wonder, but also modern acid jazz acts like Jamiroquai and St Germain. The hilarious “Asking for a Friend” finds Phonte catwalk rapping in a faux-British accent over some Chicago house. And standout “Work It to the Top” acts as the ultimate love letter to late-’70s boogie jams.

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