The Wordd
How U Gonna Live

You might as well put aside any preconceived notions you may have.

How U Gonna Live CDWith How U Gonna Live, brothers Stan and Chris Jones step out from the Motown Gospel microcosm onto the national stage to deliver some fresh vibes. They offer a unique mix of ol' skool soul vocals with occasional bumpin' beats, frequent hip-hop flava and a frequent dips into some of grandpa's quartet spice.

The resultant sound is certainly urban, yet with all those elements in the mix, it has an edge yet unheard in Gospel.

Marking the project is the Jones' childhood friend and Grammy-nominated songwriting genius, Tony Rich. It's the first of several projects that Rich has lined up for Myrrh Records Black Music Division, as part of an intriguing production/songwriting/A&R deal that he has with the label.

Detroit Roots

In speaking with GospelFlava.com, Chris Jones explained that ten years ago, he and his brother Stan Chris Jonesjoined asked their friend Tony Rich (at that point unknown on the national stage) to join The Wordd, their Gospel group based out of Highland Park, Michigan. Rich took keyboard duties, and began writing songs for the group, along with Chris.

"We called the group 'Wordd' with two 'd's at the end due to trademark reasons. There was already a record company out there with that name." (Ironically, it's that same label —Myrrh Records is a division of Word Entertainment—that Wordd now calls home.)

Tony RichSome years later R&B opportunities took Rich away from the group, but he promised to keep in contact. A Grammy Award later, Rich has now returned, bringing his considerable songwriting and production experience to the group. Yes, Wordd is bond.
Yes, this is a producer-driven project — you can certainly pick out that Tony Rich feel, with his acoustic guitar splashed touches and his ultra-smooth gliding backing vocals riding underneath many a cut. He also wrote all the songs.

But the gritty texture of Stan and Chris's vocals are forefront. Take the title track. With a nod to hip-hop, Chris and Stan deliver warning lyrics to the believer with minimal use of melodic tone —much of the song's sung melody rests on simply two notes. On "This Is A Party", the duo drops grit again, beginning the Holy Ghost party tune with a proclamation that 'it's time to jam, time to generate some joy'. Tony Rich's brother, Juan Rich lends rap vocals to the cut.

On the other hand, "Better Day" is classic Tony Rich. It's a slow jam of sorts, with a beautiful melody expressing hope, with lots of soft acoustic percussion and folky guitar sounds. "Learn To Pray" is in a similar vein, with a gorgeous smooth, stacked chorus from Rich, guiding the tune along.

The WorddAlso interesting is the sermonette, "For They Know Not", laced with rapid beats and smooth chorus underneath the intense preaching.

Plenty hard vocals, smooth, honey harmonies, urbanized acoustic guitar, this is The Wordd. It's a satisfying end to that search for something different.

Producer: Tony Rich
album release date: October 3, 2000
Myrrh Records

reviewed by Stan North

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