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T-V
TAKE 6 - FEELS GOOD
out of 5
For over 20 years, Take 6 has been holding it down with their crazy harmonies, mixing a touch jazz, pop and even R&B. 2006 sees the release of their new project Feels Good and the launch of their own record label, Take 6 Records. Now I'd be lying if I said I kept up with the group over the years -- as a matter of fact, I'm still stuck back in the "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep" days. I don't have anything to compare Feels Good too, but I can assure you that this musical offering is pleasing to the ear. With production credits going to Mark Kibble and Cedric Dent, and music written by Andrae Crouch, Twila Paris and John Stoddard, this is a cappella singing at its finest. PICK HITS: Come On, This Is Another Day, More Than Ever, Just In Time, Lamb of God

TED & SHERI - CELEBRATE
The Millennium's BeBe & CeCe (although they sing much better hehe) are back with their sophomore project Celebrate. After wowing industry execs and fans alike with their 2001 release, The Healing Starts Right There - we were all waiting on pins and needles for a new project. Well, with a new label and a fresh anointing - Ted & Sheri along with their capable producers (Donald Lawrence, Myron Butler & PJ Morton --keep your eyes on this kat--) have laced us with 11 tracks of Gospel Goodness (Gospel wha? - I know, it's somethin I just made up! lol). I'll admit-- I was wondering how they would do on their second project, considering the first CD was such a beast. I could have used about 2-3 more songs. Was looking for another Come Ye Disconsolate (You Sustained Me is close) and Thank Him -- but there's no sophomore jinx here -- it's just good to hear from these two again. You guys definitely get props for including Co-Pastor Susie Owens on the outro to Turn It Around. Features a guest appearance from Walter Hawkins and Yvette Flunder. PICK HITS: Celebrate, God Will Take Care, Turn It Around, How Much You Mean To Me, Totally Free, Serenade, Conversation & You Sustained Me [originally posted 11.04]

DATHAN THIGPEN & HOLY NATION - GET UP VOL. 1
out of 5
You can often tell musical greatness by tracing the path of an artist back to their childhood. Their influences and affiliations will play an important part in their pending career. Dathan Thigpen cut his teeth in music early being involved with the Mississippi Mass camp singing as a youngster in the Mississippi Children's Choir and later on in The Mass. Now fast forward a few years to Thigpen and his 20-something voice singing aggregation Holy Nation. Their debut Get Up Vol. 1 is reflective of the theme chosen and will expose listeners to 13 tracks of unadulterated praise. In a day and age where the billing on choir projects is Joe Blow and the Somebody Singers, and Blow doesn't do anything but wave his arms, it is refreshing to find Thigpen performing lead vocals on most of the songs and doing a great job at that. Holy Nation ranks high on the list of great choirs vocally as well. Gospel veterans David Blakely and Jonathan Dubose offer musical assistance along with a team of great musicians. There aren't a lot of projects where I can sense the authenticity of worship as it appears on this disc. The tracks Praying In The Spirit and Wonderful are definite favorites and remain in constant rotation. When the atmosphere shifts, praise is ushered in with the tracks Clap Your Hands, Glory of The Lord and Holy Is Your Name. The music, production and even the packaging of Vol. 1 will cause the anticipation for Vol. 2 and any proceeding releases to be great. Believe that! PICK HITS: We've Come To Praise The Lord, Clap Your Hands, Glory of The Lord, The Will of God, Holy Is Your Name, Praying In The Spirit, Wonderful

TONEX - OAK PARK 92105
out of 5]
Written By: Kenisha Ringgold - Newark, DE | Louis Williams - Washington, DC
"Oak Park", is to me, what "Thriller" or the "White Album" was for their generation. Oak Park is about life, and all that comes with it-love, loss, happiness, pain, and redemption. It never loses its hope or fails to give an answer to whatever situation. The lyrics rise to the quality of the production. Gone are the overused churchisms. They are replaced with thought provoking lyrics and truth. This is what music is supposed to be. [Da Webmaster]: Once only available to the public through Tonex's camp with a hefty $30 price tag, Tonex re-released this project on iTunes towards the end of 05. What I ignored the first go around, I definitely had to have now. The music presented on this double-disc is what got me hooked on his ministry from the get go. Pure hotness. Especially Feelings featuring a sample of the late Karen Carpenter. Crazy! PICK HITS: Checkmate, U Need The Master, My Friend (Featuring Chizmatonic), Natural, Insanity, Feelings, Yes (Featuring Montel Jordan)

TONEX - OUT THE BOX
Destined to be one of the biggest selling albums of 2004 - Tonex and his latest release Out The Box is finally here! Let me admit that I'm usually leery about two-disc sets because they usually contain a lot of filler material, and probably should be condensed to just to one disc -- but this CD contains over 2 hours of studio and live material. With a wide range of styles on this project, you're bound to fall in love with something. Features guest appearances from Sheila E, Kirk Franklin and Ms. Tonex. For me, my repeat button seems to get stuck on the Throwbacks section on Disc 1. I also heard quite a few samples while listening -- from Al Green, Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige to James Brown. Tonex and crew have put together quite a musical smorgasbord. PICK HITS: The Trust Theory, Alive, Work On Me, Children's Bread, Personal Jesus (Live), Why (Live), To Know You Lord, Make Me Over, Since Jesus Came, Syng [originally posted 05.04/edited 08.05]

TRI-CITY SINGERS - FINALE
out of 5
One of Gospel music's finest choirs is bowing out gracefully and is leaving behind an extensive collection (audio and video) of their hits and new tunes to remember them by. While several of their projects as a whole didn't really grab my attention, you can't deny the fact that Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers are responsible for some of the Gospel music industry's biggest hits. Recorded in two nights last fall, The Finale features updated versions of Tri-City's hits with many of the original lead vocalists in tow, and a handful of new songs that fans of this group will have to cherish for years to come. No major complaints here, other than some of the lead vocals sounding strained. Well wait, the count down (or is it up) to the praise break killed me. Who hollers 5-6-7-8? Channeling Debbie Allen are we? Too funny! Put a star next to the lead single The Blessing of Abraham, These Nails, God Is (with a moving testimony from DeWayne Woods) and It's Your Time featuring Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Darwin Hobbs and Karen Clark Sheard. PICK HITS: The Blessing of Abraham, Giants, These Nails, Encourage Yourself, Personal Friend, Encourage Yourself, God Is, And Yet I'm Still Saved, It's Your Time

TYE TRIBBETT & GA - VICTORY LIVE!
out of 5
Tye Tribbett and GA's Sony debut Life, even though it garnered rave reviews, had fans of this group craving more. We needed a LIVE project. Everybody knows that Tye, GA and Soundcheck live is a whole 'notha' experience. In December, 2005, our prayers were answered. Victory Live! was recorded. The buzz was that the direction of this project was more praise & worship oriented. Are we satisfied with final outcome? Well that depends. This is one of those projects that depending on the listener, you'll either love it -- well because you just do --- or you won't like it because it has a different feel than what you've heard on Ideas & Concepts and Life. Or, if you're in the middle of the road like me, some of it will work but the rest won't, and it'll depend on the mood you're in. If nothing else, the overall message of the CD will stay with you. We've got the victory! I'm sure that the title track will be the summer anthem of 2006. PICK HITS: Hallelujah To The Lamb, Sinking, Still Have Joy, Victory

TYE TRIBBETT & GA - LIFE
People have been on pins and needles waitin for this release from Tye & GA. Since their underground joint Ideas & Concepts was nowhere to be found (I could have made a boatload of money if I were in the bootleggin business lol) -- the fans only source of comfort has either been by seeing the group live or listenin to the tracks we've had on the site since we started featuring music back in 99. The wait is finally over. Life is here! Just one listen to this CD, and you'll find out why it's been in constant rotation in my Discman. There's somethin on here for all to enjoy. Hip Hop/Contemporary, Traditional and Hard Rock. This CD was well worth the wait, but I definitely would love a live album; and make sure you record Hallelujah Anyhow, I'll be very happy! Features guest appearances from Kim Burrell, Pastor John P. Kee and Jason Nelson. PICK HITS: No Way, Answer, Mighty Long Way, My Joy, It's Time Now [originally posted 06.04/edited 08.05]

TRINITEE 5:7 - T57 (2007)
out of 5
Written By: Roderick Meadows - Atlanta, GA
PICK HITS: I Will Lift
This review I struggled, travailed and agonized over. I remember 1998, when the original trio released their self-titled debut CD, and how much I loved almost every cut on the project. Fast forward nine years to their fourth studio release, T57, but that feeling just isn't the same. It would be crazy to blame my disdain for this project on the fact that they've changed line-ups (both their sophomore and third projects featured Adrian Anderson, who replaced original member Terri Brown Britton, and were pretty great albums), or the fact that they've seemingly been off the scene since for 5 years. I place the blame squarely on bland, paint-by-the-numbers material. The group is now signed to the Spirit Rising/Music World imprint-under the leadership of Destiny's Child svengali Matthew Knowles, and the similarity between the two groups have become painfully obvious. A couple of the slower tracks sound like inspirational cuts that were rejected by Beyonce and her crew, likely because the project was co-produced by Knowles, his daughter Solange and DJ Static. The first single, a neo-soul tinged remake of Douglas Miller's stirring "My Soul Has Been Anchored" is well executed by the trio, but the production sounds like it was done on a home Yamaha keyboard. Still, Chanelle's soulful voice, shadowed by Angel's lilting soprano saves the cut from total ruin. "Listen", the current radio single sounds a bit dated, with it's ping-ponged synth-work-a feature that shows up again on "Reflection". One-time collaborator R. Kelly's "You Saved Me" gets another spin around the block, but it's not as effective this time around. "God's Triangle" is James Brown redux. The stand-out cut on an otherwise banal project is the beautiful "I Will Lift", a reverent ode to God's faithfulness that showcases Angel's soaring pipes, underscored by Chanelle's soulful deep alto. T57 basically left me longing for the days of "God's Grace" and "Pray for A While", where the three-part harmony took precedence over beats. Maybe if they had hooked up with Buster and Shavoni and J. Moss again, results would have been better.

TRIP LEE - IF THEY ONLY KNEW
out of 5
What better example can the youth of today have than one of their own? High school student Trip Lee's 18 track debut on Reach Records packs a powerful punch both in lyrical content and production and includes a supporting cast of some of Holy Hip Hop's finest. Featuring guest appearances by Flame, Json, Lecrae, Ambassador, Tedashii, J.R. and Cam, tracks like Lookin' For Love, Cash or Christ, Gotta Grow are sure to get repeat spins. It's all about the message! Whether through Holy Hip Hop, traditional or contemporary gospel, I think the track Give Him Glory sums everything up nicely. The mission in the life of every believer should be to give God all the glory. With your beats, with your verses, in the streets, in your churches -- the agenda has been set. Go forth. PICK HITS: Give Him Glory, Who You Rollin' Wit, Gotta Grow, Lookin' For Love, Cryin' Out, More, Why Me, Good News Pt. III, Young and Unashamed

BISHOP LARRY TROTTER & SHS - ALREADY LOOKIN' BETTAH
There are certain groups that you purchase their new projects without reservation. Bishop Larry Trotter and the Sweet Holy Spirit Mass Choir immediately come to mind. Already Lookin' Bettah is the sixth release from Trotter and the crew and they show no signs of letting down. Produced by VaShawn Mitchell, Rick Robinson and Calvin Rogers, this release features these Chicago singers doin what they do best, SANGIN! Having the same feel and sound as previous projects, fans will love new songs like Yes featuring Marvin Sapp, After This, You Shall Live featuring Donald Lawrence and the title track Bettah, featuring Gospel's newest super producer Jonathan Nelson. This release is also available on DVD. PICK HITS: New Day, Yes, After This...You Shall Live, Son of God, Leanin' on God, Already Lookin' Bettah

V3- V3
out of 5
Written By: Krystal Lynch - Raleigh, NC
Arguably the younger version of Virtue, V3 burst on the gospel music scene this summer as a fresh-faced trio of sisters from Atlanta. LaToya, Shelley, and Sacha Vinson aim "to be real" with young listeners through their debut album, which is a blend of traditional and contemporary gospel, and mainstream pop and R&B. God's perfect love emerges as the main theme in this collection. The eclectic groove of "Let Go" opens the album with a burst of energy as the girls admonish their listeners to release worry and give their cares to God. The lush ballads of "Love Makes The World Beautiful," "I Need You," and "Thank You" showcase the ladies ability to emotively interpret beautiful melodies, and the neo-soul moodiness of "Irreplaceable" and "Have You Ever" leave the listener in a state of deep contemplation. The only noticeable missteps in this collection are "Take Me There" and "Let's Take It." "Take Me There" adopts the current Atlanta sound (think Ciara's "Get Up") from vocal delivery to the lyrics. Though it's catchy, "Take Me There," with its minimalistic beats and disposable pop/R&B feel, fails to help V3 maintain its artistic originality. In the same vein, "Let's Take It" sounds like and updated version of Virtue's "Take It By Force," but it's not as engaging or lyrically strong. However, with Latoya and Sacha both co-writing some of the album's songs and receiving production help from Double Dutch (Antonio, and Josiah Bell & Robert Marvin), the album retains a consistent sound and vibe, pleasant from beginning to end. On the heels of Trin-i-tee 5:7, the disbanded Out of Eden, and the now defunct Ramiyah, V3 take the reigns of urban gospel and follow along the worn path of an ambivalent genre. PICK HITS: Let Go, Love Makes The World Beautiful, I Need You, Irreplaceable, Have You Ever, Thank You

VIP MASS CHOIR - LIVE AT THE FELLOWSHIP
The VIP Mass Choir exploded onto the scene 15 years ago with the Never Shall Forget release and has been going strong ever since. Recorded at the New Life Fellowship Center (pastored by Kee) in Charlotte, NC -- this CD features more great music by the Crowned Prince himself. I'm not going to go through the usual rhetoric of "this release is better than..." -- I'll let you decide for yourself. I enjoyed this project. I'ma need Verity to invest a lil bit more energy into the cover art tho and I think it's about time for the next New Life project. Wouldn'tja say? PICK HITS: Bread of Heaven, In This House, Great is Our God, Let Us Praise Him.

VIRTUE - TESTIMONY
out of 5
Twelve years in the game and on their 5th album, Virtue is back! With Darkchild Gospel as their new label home and Freddie Jerkins?as the sole producer, this may be the release that propels Virtue to the top of the charts. Having one producer that chose material to complement the voices of each of the girls makes a difference. Live elements (drums) added to certain tracks (123 Praise!, Give Him The Praise) also made this project quite enjoyable. Martha Munizzi makes a guest appearance on the worship ballad Praise To You and T. Bone drops a verse on the hype 123 Praise!. What they didn't give me vocally, they made up for with the production and in having an all around solid project. PICK HITS: The Sky Is The Limit, 123 Praise! fea/T. Bone, Give Him The Praise, Thank You Jesus, Fall Again

VOICES OF CITADEL - NO JOY, NO STRENGTH
out of 5
A few years of playing the waiting game has finally come to an end. Pastor Kevin Bond and The Voices of Citadel of Praise & Worship and their debut release No Joy, No Strength has finally arrived. Produced by James Hall and Pastor Kevin Bond, and with musical contributions from Melvin Crispell, Shawn Brown and Tye Tribbett (I thought his submission was one of the weaker ones in this set), this IS church music. This project consists mostly of up-tempos, and it'll move you to clap, shout and even break out a tambourine if there's one available. Don't believe me? Cue up That's What He's Done and wait around until the vamp. Songs like Wait on the Lord will move you to worship. It's simply beautiful! No Joy, No Strength has its share of strengths and weaknesses; however we're pleased with the end result. Now if only my church choir could "holla" like theirs. Can I get a lil help Brooklyn? Institutional COGIC Radio Choir fans should definitely enjoy this one. PICK HITS: I Will Dwell In The House of The Lord, No Joy, No Strength, You Get The Glory, Wait On The Lord, That's What He's Done

VOICES OF UNITY - ALL STAR EDITION
I thought that after the Lost & Found release, I would have to put Deitrick Haddon in the "don't buy no more" category (lol) but he's made up for it with this new release featuring the Voices of Unity. Extra! Extra! Read all about it -- All Star Edition is one CD you must have! Great Packaging, New Music, New Faces and a Fresh Anointing -- Great CD to take into the summer.

Like many of our favorite groups in the industry, VOU has undergone a few changes. The group started out in 95 with a gang of folk and has featured a smaller crew with each new CD. It's about 7 of em now and I think Deitrick has found the right set of people. Each group member holds their own vocally and even contributes to the project by writing, playing and/or producing. Because of this -- All Star Edition will prove to be the most well rounded release from this group.

Deitrick Haddon and Tyscot Records really brought their A game with this release. The packaging is great and the enhanced CD includes a photo gallery, bio, and the video for Praise Up (Supernatural CD). Let's put this one on the charts peeps! Go cop this one! Oh yeah -- we get another solo album from D. Haddy in August. I hope it measures up to All Star Edition. PICK HITS: Who Is It, Standin In The Need of Prayer, My Soul Say Yes, We Invite You In, I Will Bless, Wonderful Change, When God [originally posted 06.04/edited 08.05]