Charity Starts at Home
To say that that the solo debut album, Charity Starts at Home, was high anticipated...would be an understatement. One reason is because everyone wanted to see what Phonte Coleman would bring to the table. Many people knew Phonte from his rhyme spitting days as a member of the North Carolina bred hip hop trio, Little Brother. Others knew Phonte as a soulful singer from his musical wizardry as a member of The Foreign Exchange. Most people weren't really sure exactly what to expect from Phonte. But for those who are familiar with Phonte they knew one thing...expect the unexpected
1. Dance In The Reign (featuring Sy Smith) - produced by Swift D
Phonte begins the song by proclaiming sarcastically saying "Thank y'all so much, thank y'all for listening. It's Phontigga, and I do this all for HIP-HOP!" Then comically admits..."I'm lyin like shit, I do this shit for my goddamn mortgage, n*gga. My bills, fuck am I foolin?" Phonte proceeds to ride the Swift D produced track like the true rap veteran that he is. 'Tay then reminds us of who he is with...
This rap shit is not the life I live. It's a tool that I use, that's it
No great fortune to show for it but fortunate
that no one can say his life ain't his
Some might even say underachiever, 'cause they are not believers
That I don't want the world, but I done SEEN the world
And if you ever saw it, hell, you wouldn't want it either
2. The Good Fight - produced by 9th Wonder
Hip hop fans get a treat because this is one of four tracks that were produced by Phonte's former Little Brother group member, 9th Wonder. Although it has been years since we've heard the two together, we quickly learn that nothing has changed. Phonte still flows well over 9th Wonder's soulful sampled beats. Phonte addresses dealing with unemployment and struggling with today's issues...
Everybody prays for the day they see the light
but the light at the end of the tunnel is a train
$5 gas, and poverty rates
are rising much higher than your hourly rates
So if you thinkin 'bout quittin, you should probably wait
'cause err'ybody gotta do a fuckin job that they hate
And he also gets personal...
My single friends say "Tay, your family's beautiful"
I'm like, "If y'all n*ggas only knew what it cost me"
This shit don't come with no blueprints
and with every change it seems more like a game you could never win
I tell my peoples I ain't rich
but this harvest is the farthest from broke a n*gga ever been
3. Everything Is Falling Down featuring Jeanne Jolly - produced by Khrysis
Tigallo steps to the mic and rips this track to shreds. Great punchlines over a banging beat from Khrysis. Listening to this track reminds me of when he rhymed on Little Brother's first cd, The Listening...
He told me to peel, broke free of my deal
and left shackles, racin like Petty in the stock
Now he heavy on the block like guards and left tackles
See where I come from and, you and yours are up in arms
like gunrunners, and you are confronted
with, 99 problems and can't keep it 100
Then at the day's end you ain't really done nothin
I made a new lane for myself and said, "Fuck it"
Why Rage Against the Machine when you can just unplug it?
4. Not Here Anymore featuring Elzhi - produced by 9th Wonder
Another banger from 9th Wonder with a great sample from the song "Love Don't Live Here Anymore". This track features great verses by Phonte and Elzhi from Slum Village. While 'Tay & 'El aren't battling each other on the track, it is clear they bring out the best in each other.
That's how I was gettin it, I don't need the limelight
That's young n*gga shit, I'm a O.G. and the G is for gentleman
Yes, Phontigga spit Amazon flame, watch 9th re-Kindle it
'cause I pad verses with the wisdom of my innocence lost
Two brothers, two peas in a pod
Two comeback seasons apart, take it back to when I be in the park
then rhyme 'til I couldn't see in the dark
I'm poetic while they po-thetic
I play they life like a movie and in the end, give 'em no credit
I was told to run it, so I grip the baton
and spit magic like it's pourin out the tip of a wand
5. Eternally featuring Median - produced by 9th Wonder
Another gem from Phonte. I slept on this track the first time that I heard it. Good to hear Phonte and Median go back and forth over another banger from 9th Wonder
New bread, new heat, n*gga toast up
No such thing as Tay without bars
That's like Pixar with no Cars
or seein a dark-skinned DeBarge, Helter Skelter
I'm suited for the game, y'all dressed for failure
6. Sending My Love - produced by Stro Eliot
This song begins with Phontigallo speaking wisdom to us...
Look... You know that so many people be askin me like,
"Man, how do you do it? How do you stay happy in love?"
Ehehe, I think it's really just a state of mind
I mean, I know single men that would kill for a home-cooked meal
I know, married men that'll kill for a quiet house
Haha shit it's just, it's just all depend on your perspective
Youknahmean? Ain't nothin' perfect
Tigallo uses this track to drop jewels on what men go through in relationships and that point we get to when we begin to look outside of the relationship...
Yo, my mind in another zone, and voice in another tone
Arguin about some shit rooted in some other shit
Long story short, it was a night that I ain't feel like comin home
So I hit the streets, to a couple places I ain't hit for weeks
Saw a pretty girl, kissed her cheek - mwah, say magnifique
She favored my ex, some harmless flirtin
A total diversion, but sometimes that's all
a nigga need to get from one day to the next
She's placin her bets, and payin respect
Next thing, we walkin out and I'm payin the check
Verse 2 gets a little deeper...
Here she goes again, I can feel her eyes closin in
It's like a rigged game, but how the fuck am I supposed to win?
The O.G. say, "Cheer up"
But wifey wants a scholar and a traveler
Hunter and a gatherer, and after I capture her
Now I gotta put MY spear up?
Man, I don't fear much
But the thought of losing her hits me in the tear ducts
Too much honesty ahead, get earplugs
Something in the way society rears us
Commitment wears us, out it tears us, apart
and makes us feel we don't need to
and that turns into "I don't need you"
People want what grandma and granddaddy had
But they ain't have options, n*gga, we do
Tigallo ends the song by having that subconscious moment that EVERY man has had when he's trying to decide if he should head home or stay in the streets...
Lemme just take it on, take it on to the house
C'mon, c'mon Tigallo, be strong
Be strong, Tigallo! Be strong, just take it home
I know she get on your nerves sometimes
But man, you got a good woman at home, man
Just go home, it-it-it's 'bout 4:30
Ain't nothin open this time of night but legs and hospitals
7. Ball And Chain - produced by Swift D
This is the track where Phonte answers the question..."Will he sing on this album?" Not only does he sing on this track...but the next 2 tracks after this. He shows his versatility on this cd. Not only can Phonte sing...but he SINGS. I don't think people truly understand how much effort it takes to rap on tracks and then to sing on others. Phonte has no problems balancing the two. He sings about the trials and tribulations of relationships...
She holds me down
She holds me up
She licks my wounds
then cuts me deep
She tells me stay
then plans to leave
She is my cure
and my disease
And it's all complicated
'cause I hate myself for feeling this way
These walls is to protect me, now they're closing in, yeah
She keeps me so secure
Until I can't escape
but it's all the same
So many nights I wish
I knew the moment when
your anchor turned into a ball and chain, baby
8. To Be Yours - produced by Zo & Phonte
Another soulful track that gives you a vision of Phonte sitting behind a piano...singing his heart away. This short interlude sounds like it could be on this album or a Foreign Exchange album. Good track, nonetheless.
9. Gonna Be A Beautiful Night featuring Carlita Durand - produced by S1 and Caleb
Brillant track. Very refreshing to hear songs that speak about love that show how people can communicate their true feelings.
10. We Go Off featuring Pharoah Monch - produced by Fatin
On this one, rappin 'Tay reappears. The first thing that jumps out is the beat. The pulsating beat had me thinking that it was done by 9th Wonder but it was done by Fatin. Great beat. Phonte and Pharoah Monch trade some hot verses on this track...
Yo, we go off
Say who go off? N*gga we go off
Flow fitted to a tee, dog I might go golf
On stage in all black, dog I might go goth
Say I might go floss, 'cause we go hard
I mean macro-hard, not Microsoft
Party time excellent, n*gga I might go Garth
11. The Life of Kings featuring Evidence & Big K.R.I.T - produced by 9th Wonder
Another gem. Phonte spits first and reminds folks..."It's a bad time to be a emcee if you ain't rhymin right". The song features a good verse from Evidence. Then Big K.R.I.T closes it with his verse...
Got a vision to be veteran
with a future brighter than a writer decifering light, by Thomas Edison
Plus you remind me of a derelict, relishin on relishments
Too busy throwin rocks at my thrown to find a chair to sit
I'm the type of King you'll probably see Coretta with
Country-bred, country-raised, and intelligent
Rose bud lifestyle and yours is petalless
12. Who Loves You More featuring Eric Roberson - produced by E Jones
Classic and insightful track. The first verse finds 'Tay rhyming about a man who's woman goes through his phone and finds text messages from his ex(s). 'Tay reminds the fellas...
The allure of new pussy is cool but when it's over what the fuck you got to talk about?
Verse 2 finds Tigallo getting deep and personal...
My cousin hit me up and said he had to post bail again
‘Cuz my brother back in jail again
Back in that slave ship ‘cuz he tried to sell again
And all that’s going through my mind is ‘how the fuck am I failing him?’
These young’ns want all of the spoils but none of the toils
Got me climbing the walls
Too good to press olives but’ll be the first squeaky wheel asking for oil
I’ve been at it for 10 years, ‘what the fuck is you on?’
Had me frustrated like, ‘what the fuck do you want?’
He come to me for answers but I don’t know what to tell ‘em
Part bad parenting, part youthful rebellion
He wanna buy a dream but I don’t know what to sell him, shit
They say the streets turn n*ggas into sinners
But them jail cells be turning n*ggas into dinner
So they sing in the summer, be home by the winter
Interrogation room be turning n*ggas into tenors
And he’s no singer, but put him on the block, he got that perfect pitch
I just want him to understand that you work for this
You can win or you lose
But it’s either me or the streets and brother you gotta choose
Verse 3...Tay finishes the masterpiece
Gotta room with a microphone and all this time
I just sat by the window and looked inside
Didn't like what I found. But you win or you lose
Make a living or have a life...guess that I gotta choose
I got a room and a microphone
And a family I ain't seen in months
And I played this record a million times
Just hoping you'd play it once
Break bread with your fellow man
Show love but look out for your heart
And always take care of home, because home is where charity starts
For 43 minutes, this album captures you and takes you on a journey. Phonte shows that he could rap and sing...or sing and rap...for as long as he wants. He has created some great music. Charity Starts At Home is a album that doesn't give you stories of mafia drug tales, shootouts, nor shoutouts to every clothing and liquor companies. It gives you a man...and emcee...who bears his soul. He offers words, thoughts, and opinions that most can relate to. I heard Phonte say in an interview that this album "wasn't for everybody". His words really didn't make sense until I heard this album. It's not for the average rap listeners who are watching thrones and are consumed with who is dissing who. Instead of telling you this is "grown folks rap", I'll tell you that this IS hip hop. This album won't sell a million records. And it probably won't win any "pseudo awards". This album reminds us all that every has a place at hip hop's table. Fortunately, Phonte is one of the few emcees who have a solidified spot at the table
4.5 mics (out of 5)