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Gospel - Released May 31, 2019 | Fo Yo Soul Recordings - RCA Records

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Gospel - Released January 24, 2011 | Verity Records - Legacy

It's almost unthinkable that contemporary gospel star Kirk Franklin hasn't had a greatest-hits offering before now. He sold over seven million records between 1993 and 2011, and that total continues to rise. In addition, Franklin is a true crossover artist: his recordings have consistently charted on the pop, R&B, and gospel charts. Sony Legacy lays out this eclectically sequenced double-disc comp full of singles and album tracks from all of his Gospocentric recordings. As if to showcase just how wide-ranging Franklin's music is, the album opener -- a live "He Reigns/Awesome God (The Medley)," from his 2002 album The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin -- weaves together hip-hop, gritty contemporary soul, contemporary gospel, and the norteño and conjunto sounds Franklin grew up with on the radio and in the streets of Riverside, Texas. The accents on sopranos, altos, and contraltos weave through the beat-heavy Spanish guitar arrangement, and genuinely stir the listener -- no matter her or his belief system. The track that started it all, the stellar single "Why We Sing" from 1993's Kirk Franklin & the Family, also appears on disc one, as do cuts from Hero (an album that featured guest appearances by Rance Allen and Stevie Wonder) and Songs for the Storm, Vol. 1. Disc two also relies on tracks from those offerings and includes the funky “Looking for You,” which contains a sample from Patrice Rushen's stepper “Haven’t You Heard,” delves more deeply into cuts from Songs for the Storm, Vol. 1, and includes "Revolution" from Nu Nation Project, “Let Me Touch You (Live)” from 2001’s Whatcha Lookin’ 4, as well as “I Am” and the title track off 2011’s Hello Fear to bring things up to date. There are 28 completely remastered cuts in all, spanning 18 years, totaling two-and-a-half hours of music. The set also comes with an historical liner essay by Bil Carpenter, and sells for a very attractive budget price. While fans of Franklin will more than likely have these tracks from his albums, hearing them sequenced this way makes for an enlightening experience. For the curious, The Essential Kirk Franklin also provides a very solid introduction to one of the most dynamic artists gospel has produced since Andraé Crouch. ~ Thom Jurek
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Gospel - Released September 2, 2016 | Fo Yo Soul Recordings - RCA Records

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Gospel - Released November 13, 2015 | Fo Yo Soul Recordings - RCA Records

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No, the title of Kirk Franklin's 11th album is not a cover of the R.E.M. standard. It is, however, a provocative appellation for a modern gospel recording. "Losing My Religion" is named for the spoken word intro to these 13 tracks. It's a rhyming, socio-political-spiritual manifesto, an admonition to evangelists that religion masks God's love and mercy; it's a barrier rather than a bridge. This couldn't be more poignant in an era when religion (not faith) is a chosen weapon in America's culture wars: "I'm losing my religion, thank God/It's my job to help you lose yours." The rest is pure Kirk, much closer in sound and feel to the number one single "Wanna Be Happy" that makes such skillful use of Al Green's "Tired of Being Alone." Franklin enlists a brilliant cast of singers including Deonis Cook, Candy West, Chelsea West, Crystal Aiken, and Amber Bullock. The reggae jam "1-2-3 Victory" offers a monster of a bubbling bassline from Braylon Lacy (who also plays upright on "When" that also features vocal appearances from Lalah Hathaway and Kim Burrell). That's not to minimize regular bassist Keith Taylor's contribution and he's not only this band's anchor, but one of the funkiest players on the contemporary gospel scene. (Check him on the orchestral Sunday morning rave-up "It's Time," with guest vocalists Tasha Page-Lockhart and Zacardi Cortez.) The B-3-driven drama in "True Story" relates the twin plights of a single mother whose bills overwhelm her means, and a soldier who returns from battle only to encounter the violence raging on America's streets. The latter offers the musical vernacular of modern soul with a funky backbeat (provided by a cracking snare and a shimmering hi-hat groove) emboldened by strings and sweeping synths. A pair of ballads reveals vulnerability and need, the moving, "Pray for Me" and the tender "Intercession." "My World Needs You" commences tentatively and prayerfully, but becomes an awe-inspiring, anthemic altar call with vocalists Sarah Reeves, Tasha Cobbs, and Tamela Mann guesting. The set closes with the breakbeat-and-loop-driven "No Sleep Tonight," which underscores the exhortation in the title track. Its profession is that divine love and grace (not religion) are the world's answers. Franklin continues his life's work on Losing My Religion. He doesn't merely inspire this time, but directly engages and confronts Christian believers to leave judgment behind and practice what the New Testament preaches: acceptance and forgiveness -- because it has been shown to them. The spoken quotation of John 3:20 that closes the album is a fitting, bracing coda. Losing My Religion is typical Franklin: a set of carefully written, arranged, and produced songs that are fantastically performed. ~ Thom Jurek
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Gospel - Released May 17, 2019 | Fo Yo Soul Recordings - RCA Records

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Gospel - Released October 22, 1998 | Gospocentric

Kirk Franklin designed The Nu Nation Project as a revitalization of contemporary gospel, a way to bring it to an audience accustomed to the slick, funky innovations of hip-hop and rap. It's an ambitious project, and one that's not too far removed from his earlier records, simply because it finds him adding R&B production techniques and the occasional grandiose flourish, such as the cameos from R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, and Bono on the admittedly stirring "Lean on Me." Occasionally, the album feels as if Franklin is pushing a bit too hard for the mainstream audience and all that entails (namely, superstardom for himself), but the end result is every bit as engaging as his previous records, thereby confirming his status as one of the true visionaries in '90s contemporary gospel. ~ Rodney Batdorf
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Gospel - Released March 18, 2011 | Fo Yo Soul - Gospo Centric

Last go-round, Kirk Franklin was dark and cathartic for The Fight of My Life, but for 2011's Hello Fear, despite the title, Franklin sounds much more positive (but still dedicated). On the cover, he stands at the edge of a rocky cliff, looking serious, ready to confront any obstacle. (After all, saying hello to fear is a welcome and not a withdrawal.) Inside, although Franklin definitely sounds a sober note during his spoken word narrative "The Story of Fear," the music is different: hopeful, inspired, encouraging. The album title is especially ironic given that Hello Fear features some of the most uplifting material Franklin has written in several years, including "Give Me," "Today," and the lead single "I Smile." Elsewhere, he reprises his 1998 classic "Something About the Name Jesus" with a part two that includes contributions from Rance Allen, Marvin Winans, and John P. Kee, and welcomes Marvin Sapp for "The Altar." The closer, a celebratory old-school bounce track called "A God Like You," is the perfect capstone. ~ John Bush
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Gospel - Released January 25, 2019 | Fo Yo Soul Recordings - RCA Records

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Gospel - Released November 1, 2001 | Gospocentric

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Gospel - Released February 11, 2011 | Gospocentric

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Gospel - Released April 19, 2019 | Fo Yo Soul Recordings - RCA Records

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Gospel - Released December 18, 2007 | Fo Yo Soul - Gospo Centric

In the mid-2000s, fans, critics and the Recording Academy couldn't heap enough praise on Kanye West's brilliant, visionary fusion of rap/hip-hop with classic pop textures. But long before West was dominating the pop scene, Kirk Franklin was bringing this same type of cross-genre genius to the gospel world. While he was something of a breakout superstar of his genre in the '90s, he also was creating amazing faith based projects well into the 2000s. Beginning with a boxing ring bell and running close to 80 minutes over 16 tracks, The Fight of My Life packs a multi-faceted emotional punch that might challenge fans of only feel-good, happy expressions of "God is Great, all the time" type songs. Exulting in shouts, interjections, and his trademark talk-rap style over an exuberant female choir, bright orchestrations, and edgy scratches, Franklin uses a brilliant reworking of the Kenny Loggins-Michael McDonald lite pop classic "This Is It" to fashion his upfront statement of faith "Declaration (This Is It)." Through this track, he attributes his ability to come through all his trials to the Almighty's grace, but later, he (or rather, his female entourage) reflects refreshingly on his doubts on the gorgeous, heartfelt ballad "Help Me Believe." Then comes "Hide Me," in which he feels lost in life; while not understanding God's ways, he seeks shelter to help his faith grow. More than simply, wonderfully honest, ultra-hip gospel, this is modern-day Psalming at its best. Blending grooves, horn textures, choir textures and in your face rap, the fight constantly balances trust ("He Will Supply," "Jesus") with the darker issues confronting the idea of maintaining faith in a difficult world. The angry, blistering rock guitar driving "I Am God" underscores the tension of wanting to break free while God keeps pursuing and asking for our trust; this track breaks the typical Franklin mold and sounds more like crackling, anthemic Christian rock. The message is always the artist's focus, but with so many tracks, the stylistic diversity (from buoyant, atmospheric '70s disco on "Still in Love" to the tribal African vibe of "I Like Me" and the torchy ballad "Chains") makes the disc a soul-stirring blast from start to finish. This is one fight that will leave the listener smiling through the bruises. All contemporary gospel should be this musically joyful and lyrically raw and honest. ~ Jonathan Widran
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Gospel - Released April 23, 2007 | Gospocentric

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Gospel - Released December 14, 2007 | Gospocentric

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Gospel - Released October 30, 2015 | Fo Yo Soul Recordings - RCA Records

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Gospel - Released May 27, 2006 | Gospocentric

Kirk Franklin's seventh album, Hero, is special in more ways than one. The disc is his second as the sole titular artist -- no Family, God's Property, or budding protégé to introduce to the world -- and his first-ever all-out studio album, a prospect that gives him more leverage to try new things and push the envelope in ways that doing a live recording wouldn't let him. Franklin is unique in that he's more a master of ceremonies and choir leader than anything else, which means Hero's ambitious, often intricate compositions are meant for others to sing and make their own. In this case, the guest list is an endless parade of gospel luminaries new and established, including Yolanda Adams, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Marvin Winans, J. Moss, Tye Tribbett, and Franklin's own terrific backup vocalists. Not surprisingly, these collaborations represent Hero's churchier side, which can range from explosive ("Could've Been") and dramatic ("Hero") one moment to demure and understated the next ("Afterwhile," "Brokenhearted"). Stylistically, though, Franklin is at his best when he ventures outside of gospel into realms his peers rarely visit, like disco-pop ("Looking for You"), classic R&B ("Keep Your Head"), '80s pop/rock ("Let It Go"), and soul ("Why," featuring none other than Stevie Wonder). It's these out of the box experiments with their winsome throwback samples, horns, thumping beats, and those versatile backup vocalists that reveal the why of Franklin's superstar status in gospel: he's not just an artist, but a multifaceted entertainer, producer, songwriter, and arranger -- a tireless renaissance man who has rightfully earned his place as the best-selling artist in the history of the genre he loves. ~ Andree Farias
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Gospel - Released November 1, 2001 | Gospocentric

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Gospel - Released December 3, 2007 | Gospocentric

This project is as close as it gets to having a true, bona fide masterpiece. The artistic genius of Kirk Franklin weaves through each of the 17 songs included on this gem. The title of this project, The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin, says it all. Musically speaking, he has been born again. The project effectively mixes live tracks recorded in Houston, TX, in early 2001, with some stellar studio tracks. Many naysayers have unjustly criticized Franklin for departing the successful formula of this self-titled debut project, which included the mega-hit "Why We Sing." Well, in that regard, he has returned to the traditional/contemporary-flavored mix of his early work, only with a more progressive feel. Franklin has never been noted or recognized for his singing ability, a fact that he readily recognizes, sticking ever closely to his spoken-word rap. He relies on his talented background vocalist, along with the all-star list of special guests, to take care of the vocal chores. Featured throughout are such artists as Donnie McClurkin, Crystal Lewis, Jackie Velazquez, Shirley Caesar, Richard Smallwood, the late Willie Neal Johnson, Yolanda Adams, and Bishop T.D. Jakes, among others, with the latter joining Franklin on the track "911." There is also a hidden bonus track entitled "J Train," featuring Franklin and DC Talk's Tobymac. The true brilliance of Kirk Franklin shines again. ~ Tim A. Smith
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Gospel - Released September 2, 2016 | Fo Yo Soul Recordings - RCA Records

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Gospel - Released November 7, 2006 | Gospocentric