Back in 2005, I ran into 9th Wonder in Raleigh outside a Hip Hop event. We talked about Little Brother's new LP The Minstrel Show. He played me several tracks in his Truck and of course, I thought it was dope. It was a few weeks from being released. I was still giving their first album The Listening a lot of run in my car. I was like "Phonte' is nice bruh." He was like, "Nah man, he is not just nice. He is one of the best MC's in the game period." I thought dude could rap but was 9th showing a little favoritism?
Fast forward a few weeks and I listened to The Minstrel Show straight through, not skipping a track. That same day I listened to The Foreign Exchange debut Connected (a group with producer Nicolay) and the light bulb came on. Phonte' had all areas of Mcing covered. We are talking about the voice, flow, delivery, humor, subject matter and he could carry a tune creating his own hooks. Man, there aren't many MC's that can cover this many areas as an artist. Other MC's would soon take notice or had taken notice years before keeping it quiet as kept.
During this time, Kanye West mentioned Phonte' as one of the MC's that inspired him. We heard the same thing from Drake on several occasions. A heavy rumor was Drake tried to get Phonte' on his sophomore album Take Care, but industry politics didn't allow the collaboration. Drake was not only a fan of Phonte', but a fan of Little Brother and 9th Wonder. Even the very outspoken Joe Budden praised Phonte' on his Youtube Channel. Budden's was trying to put an EP together of MC's that he thought were nice and Phonte' was one of them. These are just a few names but other individuals such as The Roots (he has been featured on several of their albums) Jill Scott, Royce Da 5'9, DJ Premier, Pete Rock and many others appreciate the MC known as Phonte'.
Being that Phonte' is from North Carolina gives me an extra sense of pride and appreciation. Currently, Phonte' spends a lot of his time making albums and touring with The Foreign Exchange, but he does kick a rhyme from time to time. He has also promised via Twitter that there will be a follow-up solo Rap album to his solo debut 2011's Charity Starts At Home. I placed a link below of one of his freestyles. I also recommend you listen to the album Leave It All Behind as well. Now, if you're like me, you can't wait for a new Tigallo adventure.