Phonte is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. Don’t believe me; ask Drake.
Phonte has been quietly one of the best rappers of the 2000s and 2010s. He first arrived on the scene with his fellow North Carolina natives Rapper Big Pooh and producer 9th Wonder to form the group Little Brother, that has received much acclaim in the hip-hop world. After their breakup, Phonte began to develop his love for singing with his new group The Foreign Exchange.
While Phonte is a talented singer, fans have been missing a rap album from the North Carolina emcee. It has been seven years since his last rap solo album, “Charity Starts At Home,” and fans have begun to wonder when his next album will arrive. Phonte finally answered those prayers from fans in a modest Twitter post on March 1 stating, “No News Is Good News. Midnight.”
It was completely out of left field, especially that soon, but Phonte absolutely delivered with this album. His growth as an artist from 2003 with “The Listening” with Little Brother to now is one to marvel at. This is a grown-man album: no frills, no fronting and no faking whatsoever. It’s honest and absolutely relatable, especially to those who are going through the issues that Phonte is speaking on this album.
One of the shining songs on this album is definitely “Expensive Genes.” At just under two minutes, Phonte talks about a huge issue in the black community, especially with black men — health. It’s amazing to hear an artist of Phonte’s caliber able to make a song like this without sounding preachy, but, as I was listening to it, I couldn’t help but think of artists of the past few years in hip-hop who have passed — Prodigy at 42, Phife Dawg at 45, Combat Jack at 53, and just recently, Craig Mack at 47 — all from health issues.
The song that puts a lot into perspective because, as sad as it sounds, a lot of our rap icons are not making it to the later years of their life. Many are not even making it to 50. It’s a song that’s necessary for all listeners to hear because it affects us all whether it is with our own family and even ourselves. Health is wealth.
Another great moment on the album is definitely “Sweet You,” where Phonte gushes about getting remarried. I am always a sucker for a great hip-hop love song, and this is one for the books. It comes in with a great sample that just rides the beat so well and instantly becomes infectious. Phonte rapping about his new love is one that makes me smile from the sweetness.
Phonte has grown immensely as an artist, and I love that. Although this is a rap album, he didn’t particularly ban singing from this album. There are still spots in the album where he lets his singing chops shine, such as the Freddie Gibbs-assisted song “Change of Mind.” Initially, I was disappointed that Phonte didn’t rap, but, relistening, I felt like it was cool that he didn’t. Gibbs’ verse, which featured a totally new sound for him, was enough for the song and he knocked it out.
This is a special album came right on time. Phonte is like the every man who is extremely talented, but you could just sit back and have a conversation about life with him, too. Although I feel like some of the topics are a bit out of my age range, it definitely doesn’t stop me from enjoying the album in any way. In fact, I feel like I am going to love it more down the line.
Phonte, thank you. Continue being great.