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Creativity, Innovation From Kirk Franklin

There’s every other gospel artist in the world--and then there’s Kirk Franklin. He’s just that different.

While it’s hardly unusual to hear contemporary gospel singers meld a modern, urban beat and flavor with traditional, church-steeped messages, Franklin is the one who does it with the most flair and innovation. Musically, he’s up there on a creative rung all by himself. Now that Nu-Nation, the group that backed him on the groundbreaking “Stomp,” has moved on, Franklin is back with the racially integrated 1NC (One Nation Crew). There’s a Latin undercurrent to several tracks on this album (due in stores Tuesday), and more of a pop/rock angle on others.

Does this mean that Franklin has watered down his style? Hardly, given that the beautifully moving “Be Like Him” is pure Africa in its rhythms and stance, while the funky, conversational “Breath Away” feels as if its lyrics are being made up on the spot in some black church in the backwoods. That his music does succeed on so many levels is what distinguishes this renegade from the many Franklin wannabes on the gospel scene.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.


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