I can’t believe it, but five years ago today, The Foreign Exchange (@nicolay and @phontigallo) released their album, Connected.  It’s pretty amazing stuff–just great hip hop.  What makes this album even more amazing is the fact that these cats instant messaged, e-mailed, and snail mailed beats and vocals back and forth to each other.  (At the time, Nicolay, who was living in the Netherlands at the time, would compose the beats and send them to Phonte [of Little Brother fame], who was in North Carolina.)

I was in Dusty Groove when I first heard the opening bassline of the now-classic “Nic’s Groove” (still a scorcher).  I stopped fingering through the used cds, and asked the cashier what they were playing.  I copped it, and have been a fan of this duo ever since.

TFE keeps getting better.  Three years after their debut, they released the absurdly awesome Leave it All Behind which, to my mind, was one of the best albums of the year.  Recently, they announced that affiliates Zo! and Carlitta Durand will each be releasing material on Foreign Exchange Music.  On September 15, Nicolay will release City Lights 2: Shibuya.  (For a taste, and a free download, click here.)

As a fan, I just can’t get enough of this duo.  They make classic, quality records and are engaging and entertaining live.  These are the type of cats who deserve our support.  Stand up for good music.  Happy fifth birthday, Connect.  And many thanks and mad love to Nicolay and Phonte for holding it down.

The Foreign Exchange (featuring Yahzarah, Darien Brockington, Zo! and the Els)