eMusic Review 0
Despite never having met face-to-face, Nicolay and Little Brother's Phonte found a winning chemistry on their rightfully vaunted 2004 debut Connected, with the North Carolina rapper's sanguine flow simmering soulfully over the Dutch producer's lush, organic J Dilla homages. With Leave It All Behind, long-time fans might feel a certain disconnect; for the most part, Phonte eschews rapping for R&B crooning, landing closer to Maxwell or D'Angelo than the neo-Native Tongues revivalist raps for which he's best known.
Granted, Phonte may not possess the range or chops of the neo-soul stars he emulates, but he's blessed with a warm, emotive voice capable of conveying the alternately lovelorn and lovestruck tone of this song cycle, which is loosely tied around the concept of a wedding. Nicolay has continued to refine his style, brewing a theriac of silken, late-night neo-soul, flecked with electronic and jazz touches. Phonte might be wise to keep his day job in Little Brother, but accepted on its own terms, Leave it All Behind remains an enjoyable, R&B record, full of smoky, witching-hour grooves and laid-back glide.