In the secular world, the closest parallels to gospel mogul Kirk Franklin
are George Clinton and Prince. All three rule musical universes that they envisioned, created and control. (Franklin's Grammy-winning latest, Hero
, and Prince's 3121
are a mere six innuendos and one Prince whisker apart.) But Franklin's funk and sweetness answer always and only
to a bigger ruler. Even in the face of detractors who find his sound too earthbound, Franklin's ensembles shamelessly pull together two-thirds church, with massive choirs, horns and shouts and love songs to Jesus, and one-third world, with ferocious grooves that have even the most sacredly reticent music fans gettin' their praise on. For Franklin, that conversion is pretty much exactly the point.