By Thomas Hendrix
There are some artists that can put out a good song or two, but it is a whole other thing to put out full length collections that strive for a cohesive message and have a larger impact than a single could. Unity begins with a plea from the Pastor Darrell Kelley for Unity. “You know we all need to come together as one, you know our blood is the same color, so that means that we all are, sisters and brothers. We all breath the same air, and where is the love and the care?” Questions and answers are a recurring theme from this artist. Good art has always had that kind of push and pull. It is also a fact that you get answers by asking questions.
Darrell Kelley has been a longtime entrepreneur and author, musician and pastor. Combining these passions in his life has given him an avenue to express a God centered drive. He has done this in his book on the power of “UWGEAM”. A book designed to speak to the inner voice of God in man, without getting hung up on religious labels. That is; about feeding the soul. His restaurant “Soul Delicious” feeds the body. Talking to his congregation keeps in touch with their physical presence, and releasing full length albums like “Unity” keeps his followers in touch with God when they all may not be in the same room. Reaching back vocally to influences like Donny Hathaway and other 70’s soul influence, coupled with a more hip-hop approach production wise, gives Kelley a unique sound for him to launch his spiritual messages from. He addresses the concepts of reaching human potential through struggle in the song “Be Great”. When the beautiful beginning vocals come in over the slinky wah-wah guitar and muted horns, it is soft back door approach to get people out of their own way, when they have to hustle to make it in the secular world. He addresses how his fellow human beings will always be there to point out the shortcomings of anyone and that God is the voice you should focus on to get you from inertia in your life, to participating fully in humanity.
With “Believe In Something (Kneel)” Kelley skirts the edges of the controversial subject of kneeling in protest during the anthem. He clearly thinks there is no bad time to take a knee in protest or prayer and that combining the two will result in a powerful message. “Focus” shines a spotlight on the person who may have tried and failed and is lost, not knowing where they will find the drive to get up and out into the race again. He reminds the listener that God’s voice in humanity is the best motivational speaker anyone can ever hear. He will give you the strength to get up and try it again. It is a hip-hop take on the old parable, If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. No one can hear that enough in this cruel world.
“Come Over” touches a subject that few do in the hip-hop world. The fact that indiscriminate hooks-ups and women holding onto their freedom while resisting the traditional and natural symbiosis of the man woman dynamic, is refreshing after much of the degrading views many in hip-hop have towards women and what they see their role as. Asking a woman to get married should thrill the woman, not make her run away and hide. It leads to levels of friendship and intimacy that is so much more satisfying than any 2 AM booty call. “Until the End of Time” addresses the calling that Kelley has been so passionate about. He explains his inner mission and he explains the acronym of “UWGEAM”: God of the Universe, God of the World, God of all Gods, God of Everything, God of Anything, including Me. Kelley is doing great work and it shows in the scope and promise of the releases of all his efforts. This one in the musical field hits the mark more times than it does not.