The Score: Phonte, "Charity Starts at Home"

Tuesday, Sep 27, 2011 2:25PM

Written by J. Bachelor

Buy Now
  • Charity Starts At Home
  • Phonte
  • September 27, 2011
Planet Ill 4.5/5
Sputnik 3.5/5
XXL 4/5

Former Little Brother lyricist Phonte goes solo on his latest project, as his album Charity Starts at Home is now available for retail.

Charity features its rapper/singer star laying down verses for a more mature audience, one that may have outgrown the bling lifestyle that saturates much of today's mainstream hip-hop.

Fast forward a year since the release of "Leftback" and Phonte gives us his solo album "Charity Starts At Home". A refreshing insight of a man opening up about his personal experiences that he has encountered at this point in his life. The album takes you through a different range of emotions that show as you get older in life your perception changes and you value things differently. Phonte said it best "Hip Hop hasn't changed, I've changed." The change has brought out dope material on CSAH. Whether you're a Little Brother or Foreign Exchange fan, Phonte finds a great balance of singing and lyricism to satisfy all listeners. When Tigallo does an album he always keeps a concept or theme through the album with subject matter and production.(Saving Our Style)

Several of the album's production credits were awarded to cohort 9th Wonder, with producers Swiff D. and Fatin 10 Horton lending a hand along the way.

It's easy to appreciate the production as much as the rhymes. 9th Wonder surprisingly appears on four of the 12 tracks, but the other producers get just as busy. For example, Fatin 10 Horton produced "We Go Off", which features Pharoahe Monch exchanging bars with Phontigga over a beat reminiscent of Little Brother's heyday, similar to "Eternally" which features Median. Elzhi appears on "Not Here Anymore", a joint with a soulful hook and chock full of rewindable lines.(Front Free)

Featured lyrical collaborators on the album include Big K.R.I.T., Pharaohe Monch and Detroit spitter Elzhi.

The guest spots on the project are well selected and equally well executed. With each artist ensuring not to get outdone by their track-mate, collaborations with Elzhi ("Not Here Anymore"), Pharoahe Monch ("We Go Off") and Evidence and Big K.R.I.T. ("The Life of Kings") result in outstanding outputs.(XXL)

This summer, Phonte shared his dissatisfaction with not being able to track Young Money star Drake down for an album feature.

"To my knowledge, [a Take Care collaboration] is not happening. We've made contact with each other but all of my attempts to make something real happen have led to a dead end," Phonte said in an interview. "I saw that he dedicated his BMI award to me and while that was a very noble and thoughtful gesture, I'd much rather he had dedicated himself to finishing a verse for one of me and 9th [Wonder]'s songs. That, to me, seems like a more tangible way of showing gratitude. But with that said, I'm still a fan and I think he's an incredibly talented artist. When Take Care drops, he's got my money." (The Source)

Charity has won praises for its realistic themes and Phonte's signature wordplay, as critics agree that Tigallo can rest assured that his latest release will be hailed by fans of dope beats and clever rhymes.

There's no big punch track here. Car culture, flickering strobes and the bitches will have to wait for someone else's solo debut. Charity Starts At Home, while experiencing a few choppy waves, flows like water. The overarching power of this album outweighs the issues the individual songs present. In the end, you forget that 9th's drums are repetitive and EV sounds a tad out of place. Charity Starts At Home is all of the things we wish for when Hip-Hop goes dumb or too commercial. Instead of chopping up Maybachs or throwing the average person's yearly salary at a stripper in the space of one song, Phonte wows us with stories of ourselves, mirror images of what we see daily and makes it sound wonderful. Mr. Coleman has taken Hip-Hop's road less traveled with this one and that has made all the difference.(Planet Ill)
Charity Starts At Home starts strong and ends even stronger, making this an unchallenged classic in circles where real music still matters. And if it really does, then come award time I hope to see Phonte accepting his well earned and long deserved accolades for all he has given to us. Charity does indeed start at home but it does not have to end there.(Bama Loves Soul)

To buy the new album, just click here.

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