TobyMac returns to the scene on August 28 with his highly anticipated new album Eye On It, featuring the hit single "Me Without You." One of Christian music's best selling artists, TobyMac continues to successfully combine elements of rock, pop, and hip hop. His music reflects real life struggles, his faith and passionately pursuing God in a crazy world. His previous album, Tonight, featured 4 Top 10 hit singles including "City On Our Knees," "Tonight," and "Get Back Up."
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Got My Eye On It| Posted December 11, 2012
TobyMac is back, and he isn't one to dissapppoint! This powerhouse in christian pop/rock/rap/contemporary music has been blasting his way through his career for more than 20 years. And his new album, Eye On It, keep his momentum (no pun intended) WAY up. My favorite songs on here are the title track, "Forgiveness (feat. Lecrae)", "Made For Me", and "Me Without You". For those who are a fan of the Mac's earlier music, you might want to come in fresh-minded...this stuff is brand new and CRAZY fresh.
Let's get the obvious over with right from the start. The cover art for Toby Mac's new CD, Eye On It is horrible. The interior art is adequate but whoever designed this cover (her name is Sarah Sung- I checked the credits) should lose her job... unless of course Sarah Sung is a young child... in that case, Mr. Mac and Ms. Sung get a pass. At any rate, Art Director Jan Cook (who is usually a phenomenal art director) should be ashamed of herself for giving this a pass. That being said, at least the design is bright and simple, which should catch an eye.
Eye On It is set to debut at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 this coming week, the first Christian album to do so since Bob Carlisle took Butterfly Kisses to the top in early 1997 (Billboard is claiming the last Christian album to go #1 was LeAnn Rimes' You Light Up My Life- Inspirational Songs in September of 1997 but I refuse to consider this album a Christian Album since the bulk of the songs were pop standards or hymns sung by an individual who does not even associate herself with the Christian Music community- so I went back to Butterfly Kisses for a proper reference point) In fact, I could not find another CCM album that hit #1 on the main Billboard chart that did not have a mainstream radio hit attached to it! (Amy Grant also had a #1 album with Heart in Motion, but that was basically a pop album) so this is a momentous occasion for the Christian Music community to say the least. (For those who care, Lecrae's Gravity released today with very few mainstream competitors and could make CCM two in a row for a #1 Billboard Top 200 album if properly supported- so go out and buy it too!) So the question is, does the music hold up to all the hype? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding YES.
With its focus on melody and pop trends, Eye On It properly represents modern CCM to the outside world. After listening to the CD a few times, it became clear that this is not so much of a coheisive concept album as it is a collection of radio singles, finely crafted and thoughtfully calculated to push CCM beyond its average musical trends for the broadest appeal possible. The best way to review Eye On It is to review each track one by one, so here goes!
1. Me Without You- The first radio single that lightly bobs along to sunny synths and a catchy melody. The lyrics are pretty cheesy but this is the type of song that you want to hear during the summer and perfectly sets up the album.
2. Steal My Show- This is a shocking 2nd track as it pretty much pulls the energy of the opening song to a halt for an introspective pop ballad that would have served better as an album closer. Lyrically, its a passionate plea for Christ to be the center of all Toby does.
3. Eye On It-And now we're back to the upbeat with the title track that is probably the most aggressive song on the record. Toby combines rap licks and rock guitars with some pretty heavy dubstep beats and some rather generic lyrics. I'm not sure why Toby Mac picked this song as his title track (Speak Life, Lose Myself or Steal My Show would have been better album names imo) but Britt Nicole makes an surprise guest appearance during the outro of the song with some pretty impressive vocalizing.
4. Forgiveness- Probably everyone's favorite song on the album, including mine (it was #1 on iTunes on the top Christian & Gospel Singles chart) features a guest rap (and vocals) by Lecrae. This mid-tempo ballad has solid lyrics and a memorable melody and may be the perfect song to introduce CCM Adult Contemporary radio to rap music.
5. Speak Life- This song sounds strikingly similar to Toby's hit song "Hold On" from his last record Tonight. In fact, you could sing "Hold On" to this track without much difficulty and visa versa. Lyrically, "Speak Life" is stronger but production-wise, "Hold On" was more catchy. This should be an easy #1 song for Mr. Mac.
6. Unstoppable- Another foray into dubstep, this time featuring Blanca from Group 1 Crew (as a pay back for his guest turn on G1C's top 5 hit "Let's Go" last year, I presume) Is also pretty hard hitting (maybe too hard for CCM radio) and should be fun in concert (Diverse City alum Nirva Ready should have no problem covering for Blanca).
7. Lose Myself- Like "Me Without You", "Lose Myself" is a nice mid to up tempo pop song with dance music textures that nicely pushes CCM radio into more electronic territory without going to far or being too obnoxious. I really liked the chorus on this one, even if the melody line might be slightly too high for Toby's limited range. (it probably would have been advisable to take the key down a half step or two)
8. Family- A surprisingly slow and intimate ballad about the importance of commitment to family that melodically is similar to #1 hit "City On Our Knees" (without the repetition or radio ready drum track). This song begins a series of relationship oriented songs that is a nice change of lyrical direction for the CD. One of Toby's best songs of his career. I would love to hear this on radio!
9. Thankful For You- If you mixed Sly & The Family's "Everyday People" with Audio A's "Beautiful" and Matthew West's "Next Thing You Know" you might get an idea of how this song sounds. Musically, this is the most unique track on the record and features a vocal grit that is missing from most of the songs on Eye On It. Lyrically its a great ode to the "one's who brought him" and helped him fulfill his musical dreams. Best line: "Its always been about the music, hoping God would use it to set some people free"
10. Made For Me- This is a cute love song to Toby's wife which mixes reggae and early 2000's Black Eyed Peas like pop into a sweet little treat that should make Mrs. McKeehan very happy.
11. Mac Daddy (Tru's Reality)- The requisite guest appearance by Toby's son was pretty shocking to say the least! Tru-Dog is all grown up! I actually had a hard time telling whether father or son were rapping over all the electronic beats and voice effects. It would be nice on Toby's next album if Tru actually got to guest on a serious song with his dad as its not quite as cute or comical for post-puberty Truett to sing about wanting a Mac laptop "so I can make my own beats" as it was last album when he was asking for a bike so he could "pop a wheelie".
12. Favorite Song- Eye On It ends with its most Adult Contemporary sounding song of the album. This time featuring Toby protegee and radio stalwart in her own right, Jamie Grace, "Favorite Song" bounces to an end in an almost forgettable fashion. It's catchy and fun, for sure but not too memorable. This song would have done better somewhere in the middle of the album to bridge the dubstep with the ballads. While still a solid song, it is easily the least memorable closing track of Toby's career ("Break Open The Sky" or "Lose My Soul" it is not) and leaves the listener feeling a bit confused.
Overall, this is a great collection of songs that will fit in well on anyone's iPod or workout playlist. More thought should have gone into the sequencing of the album to give the listener a better album listening experience. Lyrically, Eye On It covers standard Toby Mac territory and really doesn't break any new ground. It is nice though to see Toby embracing modern music trends and doing it just as well, if not better than his mainstream counterparts.
Radio Ready: The whole record! My picks: "Me Without You", "Steal My Show", "Forgiveness", "Speak Life", "Favorite Song", hopefully "Family" also gets a chance!
iPod Picks: "Me Without You", "Family", "Forgiveness", "Lose Myself", "Thankful For You", "Eye On It", "Unstoppable", "Steal My Show"
Heeeee's Baaaack| Posted September 01, 2012
Kevin Michael McKeehan, better known by his stage name, tobyMac, has been on the Christian Hip-Hop/R&B ever since 1987 with dc Talk. When they broke up 14 years later, Toby decided to release his first solo project Momentum. Three years later comes the very successful Welcome to Diverse City. A few of the songs were featured in Movie/TV ads, SprortsCenter, and The Dr. Phil Show. Let's fast forward another three years and Toby releases Portable Sounds, his first album with collaborations. Those include American Idol contestant Mandisa, Shonlock, and Kirk Franklin. That was yet another very successful album for Toby. If you go ahead about 2 1/2 years, City on Our Knees, the lead single from Tonight is released, this song becomes number one on billboard and win him yet another Dove award. This album has another bunch of huge collaborations including his nephew, lead singer of Relient K, Matt Theissen, John Cooper, lead singer of Skillet, and Israel Houghton. You think that's successful? Let's forward to this week and he releases Eye On It. As I'm writing this review, it is still number 1 AND 2 overall on iTunes. You can tell already this is going to be a successful album! Mr. tobyMac, I would love to thank you for releasing another album to make my iPod and me smile! All the great things I'm about to say in this review are well deserved!
Me Without You, the first single off the album is one of Toby's most "poppy" songs ever. It talks about his faith and how he basically cannot be without God, or he would be lost. The second song on the album, Steal My Show, is a more mellow song off the album that is Toby saying, "God, whatever you want me to do, I'm in!" Probably my favorite song off the album is the title track. It is that one heavy rock song Toby always has to have on his albums, and also features Britt Nicole. Toby needed one more song for the album at the end of June and was currently on writer's block. He wanted to quit, but knew he couldn't, he had to keep his eyes on the prize and eventually wrote this anthem.
Forgiveness features one of Christian music's biggest rappers, LeCrae. It talks about, even though sometimes we feel like we don't deserve it, God is always there with forgiveness. Speak Life is another amazing anthem from the album. It's telling you to tell people great things, because you never know when those few words can be life-saving/-changing for someone. Unstoppable is a song that features Group 1 Crew's Blanca Reyes. It's saying that even though Christianity is a hard religion to be a part of, we are an unstoppable religion.
Does it ever seem like you act bigger than God? Toby can't explain it better than in Lose Myself. He feels like sometimes he is bigger than God and is telling God to take everything that he is and loves. Family, the 8th song on the album, is an anthem for couples who are on the edge of divorce. In the song, he is portraying a family struggling to stay together. In Thankful For You, McKeehan is working in a diner at the beginning of the song, as he is on the verge of his rapping career.
One thing Toby loves less than God, but more than anything else is his wife. He portrays that love perfectly in Made For Me. He's saying, that even though his wife and him have a lot of differences, that doesn't stop him. If you're a long-time tobyMac fan, you will know that every one of his solo albums has one song that his son, TruDog sings. He has matured so much with the new track Mac Daddy (Tru's Reality). He talks about saving up for a Mac laptop and looking for a job in the song. Favorite Song, the final track on the standard version of the album, features Jaime Grace. It compares God to his favorite song, because He sticks with him all the time.
Eye On It is going to be yet another hit album from Christian pop's biggest artist. There are slow ballads, such as Family all the way to going-to-be-dance-anthems like the title track. Even though the album has so many summery songs, it will be on your playlist even when it is snowing or freezing outside! This album is a must-buy for pop fans!
An Eye On Playing It Safe| Posted August 28, 2012
Eye On It serves up 12 more tracks of hip-hop goodness that only Toby knows how to provide. Here, Toby plays it a bit safe and genreally sticks to the top 40 sound that was present on his previous album Tonight. It's a bit disappointing that he didn't branch out on this album but I generally didn't care as most of the tracks are fun listens that feel like they could stand their own on any top 40 radio station. The only out of place track is the traditional TruDog track. He's older now and the cuteness is basically gone. All I could think about is that he really needs to get signed and make his own albums. (By the way, his song is all about how he desperatly wants a Mac laptop and will do anything to get the money to afford one.)
Eye On It provides 45 minutes of fun pop songs that are perfect for blasting through speakers. My only complaint is that Toby didn't experiment and try new things instead choosing to play it a bit safe. But I still enjoyed the album and reccommend it to anyone looking for some positive top 40 sounding songs.
I've got my eye on another great tobymac album!| Posted August 27, 2012
TobyMac, nothing bad ever comes out of this musical legends mind. "Eye On It" is just like every other tobymac album, amazing. It is a mix of rock, rap, hiphop and even some dubsteppy like tracks. This is a must buy for every Christian music fan. Buy it, you won't regret it!!!!
Well...| Posted August 15, 2012
When "Me Without You" came out, it got my attention when i heard it on the radio- so it kind of made me more interested in mr. Mac's new project- after listening to the album- I am back to my opinion that mediocre music is popular in CCM. The album has an awkward flow to it bouncing between fast hard hitting songs and mediocre medium tempo songs, the latter being the majority of what's on the album (Steal my Show, Forgiveness, Lose Myself, Family, Made For Me, Speak Life). Favorite song ft. Jamie Grace really is a mashup of melodies of two of her songs - You lead/Hold Me
Solomon was right- there's nothing new under the sun. Shame.