The New Year’s Jazzin’ Eve with Art of Cool celebration at Durham’s The Cotton Room will be Monday night’s most gratifying greeting to 2013. This will mark the first time that Phonte Coleman and Nicolay Rook have performed together, in Durham, as the globe-trotting, Grammy-nominated soul outfit The Foreign Exchange. They’ll be sharing the stage with other Triangle notables, including Bull City emcees Toon and The Real Laww, vocalist Yolanda Rabun, the Al Strong Quintet, DJ Apple Juice Kid. But when the clock strikes 12 a.m., it’ll just be The Foreign Exchange on stage, leading us into the New Year in high fashion. After those balloons drop and you take your first sip of 2013, here a few songs from FE’s discography that will help welcome a fresh calendar.
"Take Off the Blues" (feat. Darien Brockington)
When Raleigh’s acorn drops at midnight, you’re supposed to be lip-locked with someone special. Some of you have already designated your co-smoocher, but for those who need help with grabbing a kiss from that sexy stranger (or just the closest person to you), this should guide you. The opening guitar chords are perfect for basking in the climax of the New Year, and the horn solo toward the end is a savory topping—if your kiss lasts more than a couple of minutes, that is. If it’s just a peck, then you can spend the rest of the song two-stepping your way out of 2012 with FE frontman Phonte Coleman. Maybe skip out before the song's end, though...
"Something to Behold" (feat. Muhsinah and Darien Brockington)
The stomach is the way to anyone’s heart. If your love interest has ever brought you food on your lunch break, then you know why Phonte sounds so passionate when he belts out “Twelve-piece, fried hard!” This is what I like to refer to as the “fried chicken wings song,” and it’s one of FE’s best-suited celebration jams. Since The Art of Cool Project is having this NYE bash fed by Triangle Catering, it would make all the sense in the world for FE to give a shout-out to some tasty bird and remind us that food is that great unifier.
If you’re a NYE party rookie, Phonte maps out the night’s strategy so you don’t have to: “Have a couple drinks/ go out dancing/ on the dancefloor/ doin our two-step/ People, they wonder/ Wanna know who the eff/ Is this dude, he/ act so Cooley/ I just school these/ niggas like UNICEF.” Who doesn’t like a confident date, especially one that can take you out-on-the-town on the biggest, last party night of the year?
"Hustle, Hustle" (feat. Critically Acclaimed)
If, on the night of December 31st, you still have no idea what in the hell the fiscal cliff is, it won’t matter. The bottom line is that, just like every other year, you’ll need creative ways to save more, make more and spend less. If you need someone to light the fiduciary fire, this track from FE’s 2004 debut LP might be the most enjoyable way to do it. Carried by emcees Quartermaine and C.A.L.I.B.E.R of the duo Critically Acclaimed, this hand-clapping praise of the daily hustle should encompass each of your resolutions. Improving your love life? Hustle. Fixing your credit? Hustle. Losing weight? Hustle.
“Don’t Wait” (feat. Darien Brockington)
I would normally never advise anyone to co-opt New Year’s Eve, or any other holiday, as an occasion to “pop the question.” It’s selfish, unoriginal, and every year, you’ll have to have a double celebration, which can be both confusing and exhausting. Several years ago, I did just that on my birthday, and I’ll always regret it. However, if you have to make a grand gesture like a marriage proposal, you might as well carry it out when the fireworks are in full swing, and you’ve spent the half of your life’s savings on ridiculously expensive bubbly. Borrow from the Book of Brockington, get on one knee and say to her, “Girl, we are the lucky ones, that’s why I wanna spend my lifetime with you.” Just make us have to stop the party so you can do it on stage, in front of everyone.