If you've been following The Foreign Exchange, you know the back-story: North Carolina rapper Phonte Coleman and Netherlands producer Nicolay met through the message boards at Okayplayer, the interactive web community founded by Roots bandleader ?uestlove.
From there, Phonte and Nicolay would compile their debut album, Connected, by sharing audio files through the Internet. The result was an unexpected gem: Phonte, then of rap group Little Brother, sounded natural atop Nicolay's glossy blend of European electro-soul.
Out today, The Foreign Exchange's new double album, The Reworks, remixes the group's notable tracks and B-sides, not only from 'Te and Nic, but from affiliates Zo!, Yahzarah and Sy Smith, among others. Here, guest producers turn the duo's already sleek sound into something more attainable. "Me and Nic have always been fans of soulful house music," Phonte says of Reworks. "This was just a way for us to do what we like, and put our own spin on it."
And while elements of the original songs are kept intact, the composers reconfigure the tracks into danceable medleys. "Flight of the Blackbyrd," a jazzy standout from Zo!'s SunStorm, is given breezy new life by 4Hero's percussive remix. "If She Breaks Your Heart," from FE's Leave It All Behind, is given tribal drums by ?uestlove and James Poyser (known collectively as The Randy Watson Experience).
As a result, The Reworks is The Foreign Exchange's most expansive effort to date. This music is more radio-ready than its previous work, yet it remains close to the group's sonic core. Stream "So What If It Is" below. The album is available here.