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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
"When I first started as a solo artist I had a passion to ignite the party. I think that is partly still there. Coming out of dc Talk I just had this desire to ignite a party. I felt like in Christian music there was a lot of worship and a lot of heartfelt lyric but I felt there were very few things that said, 'Let's just express our joy. Let's drop a joy bomb on this joint and get the party popping." Most music fans would agree that the speaker on the other end of the telephone line, tobyMac has indeed partied his way to the top of the charts.
As "One World" comes roaring
through your speakers and earbuds you become instantly aware that the CD
Portable Sounds may be the
In understated fashion tobyMac talked about creating a party atmosphere with his music, "I wanted to do that without sounding trite. I wanted to have purpose in doing that. That is what I set out to do. I guess that has been satisfied."
Portable Sounds features several segues consisting of conversations between partygoers. There is the sound of a phone ringing followed by a knock at the door with a request to turn down the music. The sound does not stay turned down for long as one of my favorite female singers Nirva Dorsaint-Ready accompanies tobyMac for the good vibes of "No Ordinary Life." This is such an amazing album I swear I saw my cat finding the groove.
"Made to Love" the first single released from these beats has shattered the sales and ratings charts debuting at number two on the Billboard Hot Singles Chart. As the first week of March dawned, the song still held a spot in the top five and topped the SoundScan Christian Digital Track chart. Other members of the digital community including iTunes also turned in impressive numbers for the album. No doubt, those sales will be further spurred by an aggressive twenty-one city tour during the months of March and April.
Serving as one third of dc
Talk, arguably the most successful group to conquer the Christian music
scene, tobyMac's career as a solo artist
TobyMac has however proved
to be resilient and as he unleashes his third solo disc Portable Sounds,
he demonstrates that 'the voice'
His humility and passion are intertwined in the words to the closing track "Lose My Soul," "I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul." The song features Kirk Franklin and Mandisa.
Portable Sounds is tobyMac's most personal album to date and reflects the heart of a man is not afraid to take risks. Those risks begin with his willingness to be raw and vulnerable through his music.
"I feel like I am wading into deeper waters with some things that are really on my heart. I am airing some struggles within me. My shortcomings are out there. Many songs on this record started as the things about which I have been praying. I wasn't that vulnerable before," he said.
"I like to write songs about life and the things that I am experiencing. I am very conversational as a lyricist. I write about real life situations," he said.
The song "Gone" is another deeply personal song. "I feel the song "Gone" (Welcome To Diverse City--2004) is a simple relationship song to which anyone can relate. When (an individual) is hurt badly in a relationship, someone has to resolve that somehow. They have to figure out where to go with and what to make of it. In most places in my life, it ends up at God. It should start there but in many cases, it ends up there. I take it to Him and try to figure it out. I like to write from that kind of perspective and keep it very real," he said.
"Without a doubt we have
writers who write more universally and we have writers who write more conversationally
or poetically but in any
In describing the songs on
his current album the rapper said, "There are songs that have reggae beat
("No Signal") and there are songs that
Once again, that sense of living on the edge or total abandonment to his craft surfaces, "I don't think there will be any surprises. I am a song driven person. I follow the song wherever it takes me. The song starts with an overall theme and a hook. I let the music take me and I am not scared to go down any path therefore my records are always very eclectic or diverse."
One of the places his music
has taken him is to two Grammy Award nominations for the CDs Momentum
and Welcome to Diverse City.
Focusing for a moment on
another genre he said, "When we are talking about pop music I think it
is true that the walls are coming down. It
The desire to keep culturally
and youth relevant music alive on the music landscape led to the formation
of Gotee Records with co-founder
"When Joey and I first started
Gotee, met with Out Of Eden and started to work with them in the studio
our desire was simply to make a record
If you are going to appreciate tobyMac completely then it is also critical that you know he recognizes the need that an identifiable Christian music scene fulfills. "I know there is a reason for this market (existing). I know people who want a safe place and they want to know all about an artist. They want direct edification not indirect. It is almost as though they are believers within the walls talking to other believers and sharing with them from the perspective of the church. I understand the reason for it," he said.
TobyMac asks penetrating questions about the type of music that flies under the Christian banner, "Is it music that is going to inspire you to live out your life? Is it music that is going to put you into a place where you are truly worshipping and having that experience?"
Where do tobyMac and his music fit into the mix? "I have never struggled to put myself out there. When I wrote the lyric to "What If I Stumble," (Jesus Freak - dc Talk) I put it out there, that at any given moment I could botch this thing for all of us. I could embarrass the entire church. I have always felt free to fail. I know some of my best friends feel that in this marketplace you are in a box. I have never felt that way. I can honestly say that I write from my heart. I write from my life. Do my songs typically resolve some dedication, some desire to be renewed, and a desire to step out in faith or to hope? Yeah they do but that's how my life rolls," he said.
The elements of melody and
rap unite in the intriguing song "Face of the Earth" provide the foundation
for a powerful song that poses those
There was a time when tobyMac
felt disenfranchised by urban music and rap listeners, "I tired of being
the white guy who was never really
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.