Local Wire

Foreign Exchange

Hip-hop fans who can't wait for Little Brother's major-label debut on Atlantic next year should pick up Foreign Exchange's Connected. The result of a collaboration, initiated by telephone, between Dutch producer Nicolay and Little Brother rapper/vocalist Phonte, it finds the latter riffing with various MC friends on real-talk issues over neosoul archetypes, from beefing over roommates ("Happiness") to fighting with girlfriends ("All That You Are"). As appealingly similar as Connected is to Little Brother's The Listening in its lush, aquatic grooves, it could use some sonic variety, a fact highlighted by "The Answer," a duet with Ken Starr and Oddissee that bangs with a brashness the rest of this tasty yet dangerously sweet excursion often lacks.