Song of the Day: Phonte “Beverly Hills” feat. Devin Morrison
No single artist currently active in hip-hop speaks to my overall aesthetic more directly than Phonte. At this stage in his career he can rip acrobatic bars, but not with the urgency of an emcee with something to prove. His raps are so layered and precise that it always feels like a master barely exerting himself, and that’s before you catch the many humorous bits.
But like so many of peers who grew up with golden era hip-hop, we were nurtured on soul and R&B before rap took over. Phonte also has an extensive career as a singer whether it’s modern left-field soul as one half of The Foreign Exchange, or on his solo material where he does the balanced dance between rhymes and melody that gave Drake the blueprint for his style.
Just in time for spring, Pacific Time is a short, breezy collection of soulful atmospherics that could soundtrack a jaunt on the Pacific Coast Highway. Phonte leans heavily on the vocals for this one with the raps coming at the very end of the project. My current fave is “Beverly Hills”, which sounds like something a fellow acolyte of ’80s AOR, jazz fusion and 2000’s downtempo electronica would come up with. Wind down the windows, pop the drop top if you have one and absorb some sun rays to this velvety jam.