To be a little corny and use the Twitter Trending Topic, #ifyoureallyknewme, you’d know that I’m a huge Foreign Exchange fan. I believe, any true music fan should believe and realize that their albums, “Connected,” and “Leave It All Behind,” should be necessities and for any true musician their albums should serve as manuals or rulebooks on how to create great, timeless music, with great production and great lyrics.
Keyboard Player from the group ZO! is responsible for creating great music, which was shown on: “Connected” “ZO! Presents…Passion & Definition” “Re:Definition” “ZO! and Tigallo Love The 80’s” “Zo! and Asylum 7 Overdue Process” ”Leave It All Behind” “Just Visiting Too…”(plus several others) and now on his latest project “SunStorm.”
With an album title like, “SunStorm,” I automatically thought of an oxymoron—you can’t have sun in a storm, but after listening to the album, I realized the album title essentially serves as a metaphor of sorts. The sun is used to symbolize the bright standout in a storm of dance music, bad music or temporarily “trendy” music.
This album is amazing start to finish. ZO! did a great job producing this album, and I believe created a very well balanced album. There’s a great mix of love songs, party songs, and just because songs. He also snagged great people for collaborations: Phonte, Darien Brockington, Yahzarah, Carlitta Durand, Eric Roberson, Big Pooh, Sy Smith, Lady Alma, Monica Blaire, Jesse Boykins III and Chante Cann.
Personal standouts on the album would first have to be “Say How You Feel,” featuring Phonte and Carlitta Durand. The production and instrumentation on this song are so dope and the handclaps on this song just add to the funky sound of this song. I also like the lyrics, “My lover, come closer/ Lay down come tell me what’s on your mind/ I’m listening, you’re so distant/ Please tell me, what did I do this time/ Nothing ever comes from secrets but a bunch of lies/ Nothing ever comes from silence but the tears your cry/ Even when we’re apart, baby I’m still in love/ Still in love.”
“Be Your Man,” featuring Darien Brockington is another favorite. Just listening to Brockington’s voice makes me fall in love and think duh, of course I’d let you be my man. Again, this song has great lyrics and great production from ZO!. These lyrics are real life as my friend said, and I like the fact that he’s taking account for his actions while realizing he kind of sealed their fate. Brockington sings, “There’s no more conversation cause you don’t want to talk to me/ and your reservations, they kill the possibilities/ for you I will be faithful, but maybe I don’t have the strength to be your man/ please tell me why you’re crying/ what’s the use in trying/ all you see is who I once was/ girl I know I hurt you bad/ can we get it back on track/ it’s all up to you. Girl I’m trying to move on.”
The title track on the album “SunStorm,” featuring Yahzarah with additional vocals from Phonte, Darien Brockington and Jesse Boykins is the perfect track as it proves to be the epitome of what I believe is the overall metaphor of the album. The song is both refreshing and melodic, and the lyrics work perfectly the way in which Yahzarah relays them. “So don’t try to put me down when your boys come around, like 1…2…3 (oh!)/ Love, Sex, Passion (No!)/ Lights, Camera Action (don’t go)/ cause love ain’t got no times for no games.” Or on the chorus that says, “there’s no more rainy days since you’ve come to my life/ Sunstorm is on the horizon you might wanna close your eyes/ ooh baby it’s a cold, cold world and every body needs a friend/ sunstorms gonna come to life and wash away your fears again.”
The first single from the song, “This Could Be The Night,” featuring Eric Roberson, Darien Brockington and Big Pooh, is also a favorite because as the video belows shows, its fun and the all mesh so well together.
For the grownups, they are going to really love, “MAKELUV2ME” featuring Monica Blaire—with production as sexy as the name and equally sexy lyrics. “You seem to satisfy me/ in ways I never thought I could be/ when the lights go off/ you complete me/ with the lights off/ I wanna do you ever so sweetly/ with the lights off you give me everything.”
Overall, this album is AMAZING with no exceptions. One of the coolest aspects of this album besides just the music itself is the CD cover. I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I was little I would go get cassettes or CDs and when I first got them I’d run in the car and ask my mom to play them and follow along with the lyrics in the covers. I’m not sure if it’s just because of the fact that I don’t really buy to many hard copies of music, but I feel like I haven’t seen lyrics in album covers for a while and ZO! put them in his album. When I saw this, I felt like I was able to relate to the little kid pictures he included just because I felt that age again.
Another cool aspect of this album is, he did everything himself, as far as production, selecting artists and the instruments he used. I feel today, a lot of artists rely solely on sampled music to create their “signature” sound, so this original production is a breath of fresh air.
The last aspect of this album that I love is the timeless factor. None of the music sounds really “trendy,” its well crafted with elements from different generations in music, which make this album, have the classic/timeless factor.
If you were unsure about my feelings of this album, I’ll sum it up as a NECESSITY. You can buy it on Foreign Exchange’s website here, and on Itunes, as well as different retailers. ZO! created a BRILLIANT project.
Also out today is the last album from Detroit based Slum Village. Slum Village entered our speakers (metaphorically speaking) with the “J.Dilla Era” (Rest In Peace) with their 1997 release, “Fan-tas-tic (Vol.1)” which has one of my favorite songs by them “Look of Love.”
They went on to make “Fantastic Volume 2” “Trinity (Past, Present and Future)” “Detroit Deli” “Slum Village,” “Villa Manifesto EP” “Best Kept Secret” and etc.
With so much music under their belts, it makes me sad to think this is yet another musical dynasty that’s disbanding, precedent set by A Tribe Called Quest, Outkast (in a way) and Little Brother, so to review this album it becomes a little bittersweet, nonetheless make sure you get the album.
This album is said to serve as a reunion, as well as a memorial for deceased members J.Dilla and Baatin. This album was the first album from Slum Village to include all five members; Elzhi, Baatin, J.Dilla, T3 and Illa J. Prior to the release of the album, T3 said, “I wanted to pull the whole squad together. The reason why we call it ‘Villa Manifesto’ os that it was a statement we want to give our people because we had been away for so long. What we’re doing, what’s going on, how we’re feeling and where we’re at today.”
Featuring production from J.Dilla, Khrysis, T3 and others, the album proves that it was well thought of so I guess it was essentially worth the wait. Plus with good collaborations from frequent collaborator Dwele, Colin Munroe, De La Soul,?uestlove, and Little Brother just to name a few, the album takes you on a journey with clear standouts.
A clear standout for me was “Don’t Fight The Feeling/Daylight” featuring Dwele. Call me biased but I find I always love the collaborations they do precedents set by “Tainted” “Closer” “Brandi” “How Do I Deal,”—they have great chemistry together.
“Scheming” featuring J.Dilla and Posdnous of De La Soul, is another standout. The actual production of the song—the old Hollywood sample, and present day hip-hop just work so perfectly.
“Earl Finn,” featuring J.Dilla, slaps so hard. It’s one of those songs if I listen to it more I’m bound to get whiplash. I was nodding, squinted my eyes, did that whole stank face like wow (lol don’t know another word).
“Dance” featuring AB is another good song and sounds different from the songs I’d expect from Slum Village. Also, “We’ll Show You,” is one of the highlights on the album.
Overall, get the album, the concept alone—all 5 of them, is reason enough so be like Nike. Support good music.
First single from the video, “Faster,” featuring Colin Munroe. I’m not crazy about the video but I like the song.