A hip-hop duo whose members did not meet until after its debut set was completed sounds like a recipe for disaster.

A hip-hop duo whose members did not meet until after its debut set was completed sounds like a recipe for disaster. But it worked for the Foreign Exchange's aptly titled "Connected." Phonte, one-third of North Carolina-based rap group Little Brother, and Dutch producer Nicolay recorded the album by trading verses and beats over the Internet. The result is soulfully serene, tailor-made for hip-hoppers more interested in Monet than Moët. "Sincere" will have heads nodding and minds being whisked away to a '70s block party. Songstress YaZarah guests alongside Phonte on this sweet tale of hip-hop love. On "Nic's Groove," Nicolay crafts a melodic backdrop, over which Phonte and Little Brother cohort Big Pooh trade verses. Other highlights include "Come Around," "Von Sees" and the emotive "Be Alright."—RH