In an age before social media where people relied on online threads, a beautiful collaboration was sparked between American Hip Hop artist, Phonte, and a talented Dutch producer, Nicolay. The pair exchanged beats and vocals and created Connected which was released in 2004. But since then, what has Nicolay been up to? And is there any possibility for the two to collaborate in the future? Who is Nicolay?
Matthijs Rook, known in the music industry as Nicolay, is an electronica, R&B, and Hip Hop Grammy-nominated record producer. Nicolay was born in the Netherlands in 1974 and is perhaps best known for being a member of The Foreign Exchange. Growing up Nicolay was always fascinated by music and as such he is classically trained in several instruments. During his younger years, Nicolay played in several Hip Hop and R&B bands in his hometown, but it wasn’t until 2000 that he decided to start producing his own music.
Little Brother MC Phonte found some of Nicolay’s tracks on Okayplayer’s message board and asked if he could put his rhymes over it. This sparked the beginning of a long-lasting friendship and musical relationship. The pair of them called themselves The Foreign Exchange and released an album called Connected in 2004.
Nicolay now works and lives in the United States and The Foreign Exchange still collab together. What Has Nicolay Been up To? It’s very easy for artists to slip into the background, but not Nicolay, he’s been keeping himself busy by producing tracks for The Foreign Exchange and also for his solo career. After Connected, Nicolay released City Lights Vol.1, originally it was only released online, but later released through BBE Records in 2005. In the same year, Nicolay did some DJing on The Dutch Masters Vol.1. Following which he released his solo album Here in 2006, which featured artists such as Darien Brockington and Wiz Khalifa.
In 2008, the Dutch producer teamed up with Houston rapper Kay and the pair produced Time:Line which was released in February 2008. In 2009, The Foreign Exchange released their second album Leave It All Behind. The single Daykeeper on the album was particularly well received and was nominated for a Grammy. According to Mina Jannsen, a music expert from Adviesjagers, “In 2009, The Foreign Exchange was nominated for a Grammy for ‘Best Urban/Alternative Performance’ for their track Daykeeper. Nicolay was the fourth Dutch person to be nominated for a Grammy at the time and it was a very impressive feat of his. It’s something that he should be very proud of and that everyone in the Netherlands was definitely proud of.”
Since then Nicolay has released two solo albums, City Lights Vol.2: Shibuya in 2009 and City Lights Vol.3: Soweto in 2015. He has also worked with Phonte in The Foreign Exchange and produced three other albums, Authenticity in 2010, Love in Flying Colors in 2013, and Tales from the Land of Milk and Honey in 2015.