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Unity Klan
As It Is Written

The third project from Unity Klan is the best we've heard yet from this always-busy camp. Trimmed to two members with the recent departure of Danny, it's up to Big J and Jaz to carry on the flow. And wow,UK3 CD do they ever carry, with production notched to top level and the head-bob dial flying off the meter.

The project is notable for its several guest tracks, with spots from Brent Jones, Yvette Williams, Tonéx and Jah Word. But it's Big J and Jaz, the in-house residents of Unity Klan, that define the disc.

To start with, As It Is Written has an abundance of heavy duty party cuts. You could say that "Celebration" defines that style. With Damien Willis helping out on vocals, it's an extra dose of crunked funk, with generous helpings of 'get your hands up', 'halleluiah', 'hey-o, hey-o' and 'let's do this thing', as all involved give praise to the King of Kings.

UK3 CD"Rida" is another track of the same ilk. Pointing the heavy bounce to ridas, it's fast-paced with plenty of rap action from Big J and Jaz. Their quick staccato flows exhort, warn and throw shout-outs to hip hop colleagues also throwing down for the Kingdom.

Another cut you can't hide from is "I Am God". Written by Jaz and Big J, the song takes on the voice of God, telling us of His power, His sovereignty, His all-power and his Lordship over everything from creation, to cross, to new covenant relationship. It's a powerful track with an emphatic piano and rhythm . Lyrically it encompasses an entire theological degree in just over four minutes. Tonéx contributes deep chorus vocals.

Straight-up hip hop gets delivered on the title cut, as the searing electric guitar of Joel Whitley is successfully welded to a forceful chorus that uses stacked vocals with unusual harmonic intervals to give it a mediaeval feel. The words are punched out one syllable at a time — as-it-is-wri-tten. Jaz and Big J testify —rap style— to the absolute authority
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of scripture. On "Heat", the 'like fire shut up in my bones' metaphor is deftly borrowed from Jeremiah as Big J and Jaz lay a hot hip-hop groove soaked in the vocals sounds of both Tonex and 20/20 Twin.

Jaz touches current affairs on "What", throwing in wild similes that include references to crew that has probably never been connected till now: Creflo Dollar, Al Gore, George W. Bush, The Cross Movement and T.D. Jakes. With rockin' beats that easily swing with the message, this one is very much a winner.

As hard as the hip hop hits and as tight as the party tracks groove, As It Is Written also possesses some of the nicest feel-easy jams in 2001 so far. Take "Sunshine". Here the praise gets flipped with an encouraging and smooth flow from the Unity Klan duo, supported by Joel Whitley's soft guitar and Yvette Williams' soul-smoothing vocals. Reflecting on their beginnings in the industry, thanks for 'getting through' is offered up with a vibe so infectious it needs to be quarantined.

Brent Jones joins in the praise on "Ain't No Rock", a cut that relies on beds of groovy and rich melody to carry it. Jones ad libs all the way through, with Carlos Washington on trumpet setting up brassy and funky support, and rap tracks laid on top of the familiar lyrics.

Continuing with the easy jams, Unity Klan solicits a track from Wuv of P.O.D. renown, titled "Far Away". Far away from alternative and not at all heavy, it features Desdomona Tucker on lead vocals, with soft Unity Klan raps on top, an absolute acoustic soft jam that looks to being with Jesus in heaven.

Get this CD to fill out your collection, and go out of your way to do so if you must.


Producers: Big J, Micah Whitley, Alchemist, Mickell Tyler
album release date: March 28, 2001
Eternal Funk Records


reviewed by Stan North



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