The highly anticipated Phonte solo album, Charity Starts At Home has finally arrived. Would it be a singing album? After all, Phonte’s main focus for the last few years has been his group with producer, Nicolay, Grammy nominated The Foreign Exchange. Or wait, perhaps he’ll go back to rapping since he reconciled with his Little Brother group mate and friend, Grammy Award winning producer, 9th Wonder. It seemed folks were curious, almost worried about what it would sound like.
After listening to Charity Starts At Home on repeat for a long while, a few things became clear:
- This album is a great body of work
- Phonte is a great artist, which includes having a great ear for picking production, being a great lyricist and rapper and a talented singer.
- This is not a Little Brother or Foreign Exchange album, it is a Phonte album which means he’ll show all sides of him and will bring together the folks who prefer him rapping over singing and vice versa by doing it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the album. I believe it’s well rounded. Phonte represented both sides of his artistic self (“Singing Tay” & “Rapping Tay”) as best as he could and did a pretty great job doing so.
I usually end off my reviews with 3 or 4 of my faves. I didn’t expect it to be soooo difficult to pick them but it was. I do love this album as a whole so it was really hard. Besides the 4 I’ve chosen below, honorable mentions are The Good Fight, Eternally which features Median, Sending My Love, Ball and Chain and the S1 produced, Gonna Be A Beautiful Night which features the lovely Carlitta Durand.
This is a great start to the album. I feel it sets the tone and reminds folks that Phonte’s still hip hop. The solid, head nodding production by Swiff D assists him in proving that and I also love what Sy Smith’s vocals add to the track.“I do this all for hip hop…I’m lying like sh*t…I do this sh*t for my got dayum mortgage, n***a…for my bills…” Some may take these words as Phonte claiming that his intentions aren’t “true” to the culture and love of hip hop. I don’t see it as that at all. Knowing that Phonte is not only an artist and a great lyricist but also can be comedic, an intellect and quite witty, I believe that not everything he says should be taken at face value. To me, the lyrics I quoted just means it’s not ALL for hip hop but to keep his lights on as well. It doesn’t mean he’s not true to hip hop, it just means he makes money from something he loves to do…who wouldn’t want that?
This joint was the first taste the world got of a 9th Wonder produced Phonte track in a loooong time. I remember I got a bit of a chill first hearing Phonte saying 9th Wonder’s name on it. It told me that the reconciliation was really real. The easily recognizable sample that 9th used for the beat…no words can express how great he was for flipping it the way that he did. Then add Elzhi to the mix?? Geez!!!
I’m a little biased when it comes this song because of the production. 9th Wonder created this beat LIVE on ustream a few months ago and my jaw just dropped when he did. You know a sample chop is great when you automatically sing it…even if it is just a repetitive “Ohhhh, ohhhhh!” (I know how silly that seems, just listen to the song, you’ll know what I mean! Lol!) I instantly fell in love with it and when he announced it was going to Phonte, I was excited to hear the final cut. When I finally did hear it, I fell in love with it even more. Adding Evidence (even though I almost didn’t recognize him at first. His voice sounded different but maybe it’s just me.) and Big K.R.I.T. to it just made it an instant “Lady’s Fave”
I have a lot of loves in this song. I love the lyrics…Phonte does a great job of story telling and giving words of encouragement. I love Eric Roberson…he’s one of my most favorite singers and he’s perfect for this song. I love the production by E.Jones who is a member of 9th Wonder’s production team, The Soul Council. I’ve been following his work for a long time and it’s been amazing to see his growth and honing his signature sound. Lastly, I love the verse/words Phonte ends the song with which also explains the meaning behind the title of the album. “I’ve got a room and a microphone and a family I ain’t seen in months…and I played this record a million times, just hoping you would play it once. Break bread with your fellow man. Show love but look out for your heart and always take care of home because home is where charity starts.”