TobyMac - Best solo release?
Posted May 14, 2010
To say Toby Mckeehan is a legend in music is a gross understatement. As front member of DC Talk, arguably the most influential band in Christian music history as they were known around the world mainstream, he won five Grammy Awards and an astounding 18 GMA Dove Awards between 1989 and 1999. In 2000, the three band members took an indefinite hiatus and pursued solo careers. "TobyMac" 's solo career success has been synonymous with DC Talk with a 2009 Grammy Award (Best Rock or Gospel Album: Alive and Transported), five Grammy Award nominations, and 10 GMA Dove Awards, including his work he contributed on Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (New World). He has three studio albums, two remix albums, and one live album in his solo repertoire up to 2007. After three years, he has yet again dispensed another epic album.
Tonight is conceivably the best project TobyMac has made and that is saying a lot considering his past success. Tonight combines a beautiful mixture of rap, rock, latino, club, and reggae in array of songs that speaks to the heart. In the opening album track "Tonight" he and John Cooper of hard rock band Skillet make the decision once and for all, to give their lives up to Christ and live a new way realizing that their own ways have only caused them to be "locked up, held captive, and in the clutches of their own doubt." TobyMac
In an acoustic twist, TobyMac goes in a different direction on "Get Back Up". He conveys the struggle and nightmares that every single person has at more than one point in their life and how we start "Pulling away from the Love that would’ve been there and start believin’ that our situation’s unfair." He proceeds to say that in the midst of any situation we are in, God is panting for us to trust in His love. "Funky Jesus Music" is, put simply, a dance track. He shouts out all through the song how he cannot rest until he has the hip-hop, funky, soul Jesus music and that if you don't have it, he doesn't want it. This song could be easily be played at a wedding reception, in a dance routine, or just in your headphones as this club sounding song makes you want to move.
In his most successful single up to date, City On Our Knees (133,000 copies sold including 17,000 in the first week of its release), he describes a moment where every person in the world comes together and all of our differences and judgments fall by the wayside and love comes in and fills in the cracks and we all turn our vision to the One who unites us. Toby escapes his usual forté by using violins and piano in a unique transcendent blend. Toby remakes the song as well as putting the original successful radio version at the end of the album that was first released back in August 2009. It also was Grammy nominated for 2010 Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Song which brought his total up to 6 solo career Grammy nominations.
"ShowStopper" is a hype rock track that puts you in mind of songs from his first solo album Momentum while in "Changed Forever" he provides us with a 'Paul on The Damascus Road' scenario (Acts 9:3-19) of how he experiences God for the first time in the midst of his sin and blindness to Him. "Hold On" is smooth and comforting telling us as people to hold on to God just a bit longer and how our troubles are almost gone and that nothing in this world can stop His crazy crazy love (yes, TWO crazy's) from breaking through in your struggle.
On every studio album and remix album, Toby has featured his son, Truett, in a short interlude song. "LoudNClear" is by far the best song by his protegé. Tru-Dog, as he has been called, takes on a very solid hip hop beat that makes the bass system bang in cars. Although the lyrics are humorous, Truett shows his off swag as a hip-hop artist as he competes against a very special guest in a hip-hop battle whom he's very close to and that has not appeared on any of the previous Truett interludes.
"Hey Devil" is an upfront confrontation where a girl straight up disses the devil, and tells him he has no control over her while "Wonderin' " is a pop happy melody ballad written to the other two members of the former band DC Talk Michael Tait, who is now lead singer of long time band Newsboys, and Kevin Max. With help from Matthew Thiessen of alternative band Relient K, Toby renders his feelings on the three came together and made songs that God had put in their hearts and how they toured and made money, all in bringing glory to God and how they thought it would never end. Though it was sad when they eventually did split, the break up caused his personal dreams to open up and that although they have gone their own ways, the memories and influences of them will remain in his heart.
"Captured" tells how we can be gratefully trapped in God's plan and that the further we go in His plan, the more of Him we want where to the point where we don't want to go anywhere else. The guitar riffs and wailing of Toby's voice reminds the listener of his previous single Burn For You of the 'Welcome To Diverse City' project (released in 2004)."Start Somewhere" addresses when you and an ex-friend have been in a long-time fight where you both have done something wrong to each other and that if you want to make progress, one of them first must step up and extend love, admit they have done wrong, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. In this uptempo, big band, Latino track, Toby utilizes his brass options using trombones, saxophones, and trumpets that drive the melody to make this number feel confrontational and exciting.
TobyMac ends the album with a collaboration with the 3-time Grammy Award winner, praise and worship leading sensation, Israel Houghton in "Break Open The Sky" where they sing praises for Jesus' return to the earth. This is a pure reggae sound that makes you feel like your right in Jamaica as they shout to "turn off gravity so we can fly" to God so we can see our King. He brings back the trombone one more time while Ayiesha Woods to help the two sing a magnificent praise to Jesus.
The deluxe version of this album contains remixes of "Captured" , "Hold On", and "Tonight" along with two videos entitled "Making the Album 'Tonight' " and "From The Studio to The Stage."
Tonight has further more set Toby Mckeehan in as one of the top great Christian music legends of all time as every song comes with strong delivery and witty lyricism with a message that is clear, positive, hopeful, and realistic.
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