Foreign Exchange’s Same Difference

Foreign Exchange’s Same Difference
A few things have changed since producer Nicolay and Little Brother MC Phonte created the critically acclaimed Connected four years ago without ever meeting. The Dutch producer has relocated to North Carolina and new album Leave It All Behind, but aside from two short verses, is bereft of any hip-hop rhymes.

In their place are ethereal vocals carefully laid atop Nicolay’s meticulously layered arrangements on majestic entries like "Daykeeper,” allowing him to delve further into his inimitably otherworldly mix of downtempo, soul and electronica. "People that liked Connected and liked the more musical elements of it would have seen it coming,” says Nicolay, who acknowledges the risk as well. "We knew that more than likely we had to alienate part of our original fan base to go where we wanted to go.”

Phonte also strays from his comfort zone of witty, insightful blue-collar rhymes to the fully-fledged vocal workouts his material with Little Brother has often hinted at. However, the often intentionally comical results have been replaced with a more serious approach. "I'm just at a point in my life where I’m simply following all my passions and seeing where they lead,” says Phonte. "When I was younger, I used to be so hell-bent on being remembered as a great MC that I kinda neglected all the other avenues that were open to me.”

Despite the sonically sumptuous departure Leave It All Behind represents, some things remain the same. While they have now met several times and live in the same state, the duo still work on music separately, communicating through file trading and instant messaging to create their impressive collaborative work. "I don’t wanna meet the cow, just bring me steak,” says Phonte.