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Phonte, Charity Starts At Home

Praised for his efforts as a member of groups Little Brother and The Foreign Exchange, Phonte gets the solo shine that many have been waiting nearly a decade to hear on Charity Starts At Home.

Before jumping into the album’s first verse, Phonte begins the offering’s opener talking, promising, “I do this all for hip-hop!” before pausing and dismissing that thought, saying, “I’m lying like shit. I do this shit for my goddamn mortgage, nigga. For my bills.” This sort of grown man, 9-to-5 approach has gained the North Carolina spitter legions of loyal listeners through the years, and it’s the relatable outlook that persists on this album.

That opener, “Dance In The Reign,” is a potent lyrical display of Tigallo’s talents and creativity. At one point in a four minute string of quotables, he kicks, “I’m still top-notch/You niggas is better off playin’ hop scotch in a mine field/Better off warring in the jungle with no camouflaging/Suicide mission/Straight sabotaging/Flow so addictive, it’s like habit forming/Flow hair raising, it’s like rabbit farming.”

“The Good Fight” is an everyman anthem, a stirring attempt to contextualize the worker’s struggle in today’s suffering economy (“Everybody prays for the day they see the light/But the light at the end of the tunnel is a train/Five dollar gas and poverty rates, are rising much higher than your hourly rate/So if you thinkin’ ‘bout quiting, you should probably wait/Cause everybody gotta do a fuckin’ job that they hate”). Phonte later reveals further sides of introspection (“Everything Is Falling Down”), and storytelling (“Sendin My Love”).

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.

Another collaboration that stands out is Tay’s reunion with producer and former group mate 9th Wonder. With their issues now behind them, the two got together for four of the project’s 12 tracks, each one reminiscent of LB’s heyday without feeling like a reach for the past. The result is a sonically soulful backdrop threaded throughout.

“Still the underground king, nigga, dance in the reign,” Phonte spits on the first track. Undeniably, Charity Starts At Home reminds why the rapper has been a darling of the underground for years. —Adam Fleischer

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  • A.O.N

    Good review. Almost would have given it a XXL though

  • freddrick charles

    needs to be xxl on originality!

    • El Grande Siete

      “I agree” in spanish

  • jesus

    It feels good to see an emcee of his caliber finally being recognized in these days of, here today gone tomorrow “fastfood rap”. Been a Little Brother fan for years and a huge Phonte fan. Keep purchasing your music and stop downloading illegally and real artists can continue to make timeless hits! NewTigallo, NewTigallo, NewTigallo!!!

  • http://xxl 40water619

    should’ve been xxl

  • fyasko51

    dope beats, dope rhymes, this hip hop isnt really that hard…

  • swype-matic

    This & Evidence’s ‘Cats & Dogs” >>>> Cole World & Carter 4

  • Jason

    Never heard of this guy until today, the album is very good. Ball and Chain is a Banger!!

  • Raleigh

    I Honestly dont know where to begin..1st off this Cat is one of the best Overall Artists of all time in my opinion.And its nothing new,he has been doing this since his days with Little Brother. I Personally would have givin this Album an XXL in the Lyrics & Originality spots.His word play,concepts,& delivery is impeccable..O and he is singing his ass off too.Iv seen him in concert,he puts on a great show too.i love this Cat..I rate this one a XXL..

  • MindState

    This is my favorite album right now.. Sendin My Love? Aww man. It’s so grown up, so mature. I love it.

  • BEazy

    XXL all day. Every category. Every song. newtigallonewtigallonewtigallo

  • http://www.twitter.com/alsween AlSween

    I’m glad that I’m on e of the few to have an autographed copy of the album! My favorite MC!

  • http://www.miqverse.com MIQ VERSE

    I am gonna have to agree with what was said earlier! This album definitely deserved a XXL and just for the record “Ball & Chain” is a classic record!

  • lacsap

    One North Carolina rapper had a HUGE coming out party on Sept. 27….and he’s not signed to Jay’s label.

    This album almost deserves an “XXL”. Dope beats. Dope Rhymes. Dope delivery. What more do you want in your rap?

    Phonte’s Charity>9th Wonder’s Wonder Years>J. Cole’s Cole World.

    And that’s all I’m going to say…

  • Jermaine

    If these lyrics are not XXL, what is?

  • saer1one

    XXL definitely..! I bet if it was a review on Drake’s new album, “It” would have received an XXL.. Dumb ass industry will never understand the theft that goes on in the Hip Hop game..

  • chaps

    definitly should have been xxl on lyrics. tays a beast

  • Money Mike


  • moneymike

    THIS DUDE IS THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!

  • traceynix

    I can’t wait for ELZHI’s Album!

  • jeremy

    why does the link for a free download send me to itunes where the album costs $9.99?

  • biggiesmallsistheillest

    french montana-them girls is way better #justsaying

  • Djee

    Why don’t you come in paris eLZhi ???????