Sweet Honey in the Rock's reputation as an exemplary vocal ensemble steeped in African choral traditions and backed by rhythmic percussion dates back to the 1970s. Some 30 years later, the group's basic approach and rich harmonic sense remain intact. On Experience...101 Sweet Honey in the Rock bring their vocal prowess to bear on children's music, delivering an ambitious program of original and occasionally older songs. With intertwining voices, multi-part arrangements, and rhythmic underpinning, songs like "4 U 2 Know as U Grow" and "Education Is the Key" are really catchy. Six voices/musicians -- Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Aisha Kahlil, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Carol Lynn Maillard, Louise Robinson, and Arnae -- provide Sweet Honey in the Rock with a potentially diverse foundation. The foundation, however, is frequently limited by relying on similar structures from song to song, which means that while an individual song like "When I Grow Up" may be quite catchy by itself, it is too similar rhythmically to "All I Have to Do." This factor, plus the preachy quality of certain songs, mars an otherwise beautifully sung album. These faults, however, will probably matter little to young listeners or liberal-minded adults, who will find, respectively, the intoxicating soundscape and politically correct lyrics on Experience...101 easy to like.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.