Ever since Jay Z and R. Kelly made their Best of Both Worlds album, every other rapper and singer has announced their plans to make a collaborative album. However, most of these projects never quite come to fruition. It’s not because the artists aren’t earnest in their intentions, but because such a project, like any relationship, takes time, effort, understanding and a little bit of sacrifice. It’s no wonder that the joint album that Phonte and Eric Roberson promised us way back in December of 2013 took so long to see the light of day. Between making individual albums, touring the world, maintaining relationships, growing families and finding time to breathe, it’s a wonder the duo found time to create. However, they didn’t find the time, they made time. The final result, Tigallerro, is a project that mirrors that unique dynamic as it explores the time, effort, understanding and sacrifices necessary to make a relationship between a man and a woman work.
The album cover, an homage to Maxwell‘s Urban Hang Suite and Run-DMC‘s Kings of Rock, provides a subtle hint at the album’s contents. Tigallerro mines the best of old school hip hop and R&B to discuss what it means to be a grown ass man in a relationship in 2016. Borrowed sounds run the gamut of the legendary to the obscure to the just on the tip of your tongue. Are those James Brown’s drums? Is that’s a D’Angelo sample? Did they just use some guitar licks from Total? Tigallerro is full of these moments. However, the duo never takes so many detours on their trip down memory lane that they lose their individual sounds.
The album starts with the first single “It’s So Easy,” a feel-good song perfect for summer BBQs and day parties produced by E. Jones and Zo!. Over a carefree soundbed of stutter-stepping synths and mild drums, the guys discuss how effortless it is to love the women in their lives. The lovefest continues on the short but sweet, “My Kind of Lady,” where Tigallo and Erro give props to ‘round the way girls down to eat chicken wings in the car and freestyle over J Dilla beats joking at the crib.
While the guys worship the ground their women walk on, they also make it plain that it can be hard to stay on the straight and narrow. On “Thru the Night,” Eric and Tay discuss the temptation of cheating, with Phonte warning his brethren not to risk it all for, “that b***h off Instagram.” “Grow this Love” cautions listeners not to hurry love, lest you ruin a good thing. Finally, there’s “Waiting 4 Ya,” featuring Paris Strother of KING and Carmen Rogers, which explores the notion that sometimes love has to wait, but hopefully the right woman will give you the time and space you need to become the man she deserves.
In addition to his rhymes and subtle tenor, Phonte’s trademark sense humor makes a few appearances. While the jokes are mostly sprinkled here and there, it is on full display on “Hold Tight,” a parody of sorts of trap R&B songs. The guys sing/rap through the track, with Phonte doing some fantastically hilarious ad-libs in the background. However, the real gag on this humorous track is that the more you listen to it, the more you realize it’s actually kind of catchy and they’re spitting the truth.
Another standout track is “3:45,” which has to be most romantic song ever dedicated to the fine art of the booty call. Produced by frequent The Foreign Exchange collaborator Sheldon Williams, the track blends piano, drums and guitar licks into a stark yet lush soundtrack for late night creeping. If that wasn’t enough, the song also features seductive harmonies reminiscent of one-hit wonders Playa and ends with a couple synths borrowed from soul music legends Tony! Toni! Toné!’s “It Never Rains (In Southern California).”
The album ends on the inspirational groove “Something.” Over Daniel Crawford‘s subdued horns and a hip hop drum beat, Roberson lays out his manifesto to become a better man, singing, “Commitment is something I had to learn / And trust is something I had to see / If she is something I have to have / Then better is something I have to be.”
Neither an +FE project featuring Eric Roberson nor an Erro album featuring Phonte and friends, Tigallerro is equal parts each artist and their inspirations, with it all coming together to form something greater than their individual parts. The album is overflowing with musical ideas, which is both a boon and a detriment. Some songs feature multiple beats that could have been flipped into another track, while some of the duo’s dopest moments come in short at two-to-three minutes. With that said, a nimble craftsman knows how to edit, a good storyteller knows how to leave their audience wanting more and a smart man knows when to quit. Judging by this album, Mr. Coleman and Mr. Roberson embody all three.