Entertainment Weekly - 6/7/96, p.60
"...Franklin's hit gospel album, a live effort, couldn't work harder to sound urban and up-to-date, employing new-jack swing inflections plus a Prince-like title to make religion seem groovy. Luckily, his Family can belt with the best of them..." - Rating: B
Kirk Franklin & The Family: Kirk Franklin (vocals, piano, synthesizer); Jeannette Johnson, Keisha Grandy, Yolanda "Yo" McDonald, Sheila "Mother" Brice, Tamela "Biscuit" Mann, Stephanie "Chicken" Glynn, David "Big Daddy" Mann, Dalon "Big Love" Collins, Theresa Young, Terri Pace, Demetrice "De" Clinkscale, Bryon Cole, Carrie "Mousey" Young Davis, Jon "J.D." Drummond, Darrell "Singin'" Blair, Chris "Sweetie" Simpson (vocals).
Additional personnel: Bryan James (acoustic guitar); Anthony Thomas (guitar); Lawrence Robinson (trumpet, programming); Bobby Sparks (piano, synthesizer, Hammond B-3 organ, Mini-Moog synthesizer); Jerome Harmon (Hammond C-3 organ, synthesizer); Jerome Allen (bass); Erik Morgan (drums); Buster & Shavoni (drum & synthesizer programming); God's Property (background vocals).
Engineers: Malcolm Harper, Jr., Louis "Buster" Brown, Bob Tucker.
Recorded live at Calvary Temple, Dallas, Texas; Tree Studios, Atlanta, Georgia; We Fly Studios, Los Angeles, California; Aire L.A. Studios, Glendale, California.
WHATCHA LOOKIN' 4 won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album.
Proving that some things are well worth the wait, WHATCHA LOOKIN' 4, recorded in 1994 and released two years later, successfully combines danceable hip-hop backgrounds with sanctified lyrics. Kirk Franklin is one of gospel's leading choir songwriter/arrangers (he's written for the DFW Mass Choir, Georgia Mass Choir and GMWA National Mass Choir, among others). Here he gives much of the spotlight to The Family, which shows off both standard and innovative vocal inflections and part divisions.
While WHATCHA LOOKIN' 4 is a must-have for contemporary gospel and R&B fans, gospel traditionalists will also find the album to their liking. After the smooth R&B-like ballad "Conquerors," led by Dalon Collins, Tamela Mann takes the lead for a down-home gospel, "Don't Take Your Joy Away," which is followed by the shout song "When I Think About Jesus."
"Mama's Song," dedicated to his late mother, finds Franklin singing alone at a piano. He remains on piano through the middle of the album, while The Family takes lead vocals on three beautiful gospel ballads. WHATCHA LOOKIN' 4 starts contemporary, mellows out, offers some traditional gospel and returns to contemporary with some remixed-in-'96 grooves. It's a superbly-produced, spirit-filled gospel album that keeps in step with the '90s without selling out.