Winans Phase 2
We Got Next

"Flip flop Gospel, R&B dipped,
and hip-hop us copy-cattin’ y’all
will be a trip,
Pop I learn from them
But why would I pretend to be
any one else when I got my own identity,
Much respect to the Winans
and BeBe and CeCe,
but we are Phase 2,
I gots to be me
God called us to reach
a whole ‘nother day and time..."

from "I'm A Winans Too"

With an intense media blitz on par with a Kirk Franklin release, and with their faces plastered throughout various print publications, the existence of the Winans Phase 2 isn't surprising very many anymore.

The third generation of artists coming from the musical treasure chest of the Winans family are Marvin Winans Jr. (Coconut), Carvin Winans Jr., Michael Winans Jr., Winans Phase 2 CDand Juan Winans (the fathers of the first three are obvious, with Juan being the second son of Carvin Sr.).

On the surface, this isn't the Winans sound your mother used to listen to. A closer examination however, reveals some striking similarities with original Winans releases from years ago. Sure, with cream crop production (including Darkchild and PAJAM), their sound reflects current beats and trends (and how!). Beyond song writing and musical excellence however (both of which are common expecations from any Winans-related project), Winans Phase 2 steps into the same path of older Winans by presenting their non-threatening Gospel message in a form which will surely allow it push beyond church walls to the wider community in need.

Part of that acceptance will no doubt be due to some familiar names involved in the album (another similarity with original Winans' albums). Cases in point are the Babyface-penned cut, "Just For A Day" which cruises along at a city jeep speed, the Darkchild-produced "Real Love" which has a killer hook, and the poignant "Let Him In" with Narada Michael Walden on the production board.

Perhaps the most unexpected song on the the album is a Winans Phase 2 cover of the Bee Gees classic "Too Much Heaven". The group manages to swing the original lyrics onto the Gospel road ("Love is such a beautiful thing, So just take His hand, Put your mind at ease, He will take you there, if you just believe"). They also carry off the tune with an intensely Bee Gees-influenced vocal sound. This song concept succeeds wildly, is a ton of fun, and never becomes campy.

The obvious strength of Winans Phase 2 resides in their familial closeness, which confers an intangible tightness and cohesiveness to their sound. Even though the brothers are young (ranging in age from 17-19), with their background and heritage it would be hard to claim that they have a 'lack' of experience. So perhaps the only thing missing is an overall Winans Phase 2 "stamp of identity". But that's a quality that will only come with time.

In the meantime, you can enjoy this consistent and solid project that is deserving of all its hype, and count it all joy.

Check out the interview with Winans Phase 2.

Producers: Various
album release date: August 31, 1999
Myrrh Records

— reviewed by Stan North —

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