By: Hassahn Phenomenon

“With good music, got that good feel, a good meal; leafy greens, two veggies, protein, and a starch,” are the words of rhyme spitter/crooner, Phonte on his 9th Wonder produced song, “Not Here Anymore” featured on his new album, “Charity Starts at Home.” In a fast food music industry, where people want music quick, cheap, and just good enough to fill them up for the moment, Phonte chose to go away from the McDonald’s like brand album with one or two singles, and 10 fillers. The album is definitely not two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun and guess what; “I’m Lovin’ It!”

I have actually had the album in my possession for more than three weeks and just like any good meal, I didn’t want to rush through it. I wanted to let it digest throughout my soul so I listened to it in my office, rocked it my car, worked out to it at the gym, and left a few friends hear it in my home. With that being said, now I feel like I let the predominantly 9th Wonder produced project, marinate long enough that I could give an honest opinion of how it smelled, tasted, and made me feel after I consumed it.

Charity Starts at Home” smells of the essence of a nice blend of sample driven boom-bap instrumentals mixed with the soulful quintessence of piano rhythms and full melodies. On tracks like the head bobbin’, “Dance in the Reign” produced by Swiff D, which serves as the intro song to the album, Phonte shows that his pen game is still strong while still providing an outlook to his view on his place in hip-hop. The gifted songstress, Sy Smith, joins him on the track towards the end as she provides a soulful balance to the track that sort of depicts the entire of feel what you can expect from the album. “Charity Starts at Home” tastes like raw, honest, adult-like, and cleverly scribed lyricism spoon fed to the hungry listener by Phonte, a few guest emcees, and a few R&B vocalists. The former Little Brother member shows off his crooner like vocals on the smooth Sl and Caleb produced track, “Gonna Be a Beautiful.” Joined by usual and talented suspect, Carlitta Durand, this track is sure to satisfy the soul of the Foreign Exchange followers. In that same vein, “Sendin My Love” is also sure to please the auditory palette with the captivating percussion provided the use of the conga drum, while simultaneously appealing to the hearts and minds of any grown ass man or woman that has battled with the ups, downs, fidelity, and commitment of marriage and relationships.

Charity Starts at Home’ makes you feel as if hip-hop and music in general can still possess the originality and creativity captured during the “Golden Era,” while simultaneously being innovative enough to be relevant for the moment and beyond. That very essence is captured on the song, “We Go Off” featuring hip-hop legend, Pharoahe Monch. The song definitely speaks to any and everyone that appreciates a dope beat, raw rhymes, clever metaphors, and punch lines.

This album definitely packs a good punch but is more than that. It truly is a good meal due to its bountiful balance. It provides nutritious sustenance to the ears, mind, and soul with pulsating production, sinister similes, thought-provoking content, and uncut honesty from Phonte, who seems to have truly embraced who he was, is, and will become. With that being said, if you have had your fair share of value meals and combos for the day, week, or year, then I suggest you go grab some leafy greens, two veggies, protein, and a starch. A good meal and “Charity Starts at Home.”


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