The Foreign Exchange is not just the collaborated efforts of Phonte and Nicolay, but their ability to bring together a host of talents. Phonte does not rap on every track (in fact he only raps on 10) but he certainly is responsible for the album as a whole, taking on executive producer role, finding the talent and having 9th Wonder mix down some of the beats.
I always have trouble in trying to describe the production of Nocolay. Many of his beats sound like they use elements of The Nutcracker Suit or Pete and The Wolf (I'm not sure that helps a lot of people out). They are smooth, well laid out tracks, yet far from any other hip-hop production I've herd.
The beat for Title Theme gives you a pretty good feel for the kind of production that is going to follow in the rest of the album.
Vons Sees is a track featuring a short rhyme by, well Von Pea and unfortunately is forgettable. The real album starts on Raw Life when Phote finally drops over a head nodding beat. Joe Scudda also contributes the second verse and comes off pretty well. But, a distorted Phonte comes back on the track to rip it up ("I speak with no prejudice/ You thought kissing ass was in my blood type, O Negative").
Hustle, Hustle is another well produced track, the chorus with some infectious jazzy horns. This track features Critically Acclaimed, Phote only can be herd in the background of the chorus. The group holds there own, but the beat hear steals the show.
Let's Move is a Little Brother union of Big Pooh and Phonte, as well as the following track Nic's Groove, which not surprisingly enough is one of the better tracks. The two mesh perfectly together over Nicolay's beats just as well as they do over 9th Wonder's.
Be Alright and Sincere are both tracks featuring Phonte and some soul crooners. Brave New World is a solid track where Phonte really shines just relating to the daily struggles in his life and out society. The Answer returns the album to a more hip-hop feel with Oddiisse and Ken Star helping out Phonte. Come around is an entirely sung by Darien Brockington (who sounds faintly reminiscent of Sisqo).
Happiness, Big Pooh and Phonte join up again, which works pretty well excluding a weak chorus. End Theme is completely sung by Yahzarah. All That You Are is a solid track featuring Phonte and Median. The album then closes with a couple of Remixes which are nice, but don't add anything exceptional to the album.
One thing that is clear throughout the album: both Phonte and Big Pooh have improved which is scary. They put everything into whatever piece they are trying to create.
This is a solid album, very creative and different. It also stays away from your typical hip-hop music. While there is enough on here to satisfy most, some might be disappointed in the lack on straight up rap or even a lack of Phonte in general. Chances are if you're a Little Brother fan, this will defiantly be something you enjoy. If your just getting into them or want an impulse buy, I wouldn't recommend this. As a rap album it might not be what you're looking for, but as a creative piece of music it's defiantly high quality.