TobyMac: Eye On It
Posted September 05, 2012
TobyMac was basically the guy that got me into Christian music. Yes, my first CD was Steven Curtis Chapman's Speechless, but I did not really have a passion for Christian music - or any music, for that matter - until I bought TobyMac's album Renovating Diverse City. That album is basically what got me into music. With that said, Eye On It is quite a disappointment. Yeah I know it hit number one on the Billboard Top 200, but it just does not appeal to me. It is not TobyMac. The TobyMac that I loved to listen to back in the day was more of what I would describe as a mixture between hip hop and rock and a bunch of other awesome stuff. Eye On It is pop, just like everything else playing on the mainstream radio today.
I gave "Me Without You" a very optimistic review when it was released as a single like a month or two ago, hoping the majority of the album would not be like it. I still believe it is a pretty good song, but when it is mixed in with so many other songs that have that same pop sound it gets really old, really fast. I do not mind pop music at all (just take a look at my review of Britt Nicole's latest album, Gold), but pop is not what Toby does best. Crunk rock hip hop is what he does best. I would love to see him go back to the days of Portable Sounds; that is what I view as his best work to date. His last album, Tonight, had some really good songs, but that was when he started going down the road of soft pop songs made for the radio. Writing this I feel like the guy who is completely against any change in an artist's sound and writes huge reviews on iTunes and Amazon about how horrible the album is because it does not sound like the stuff the the band has done in the past. But with TobyMac he has built his sound from his days with DC Talk, so for like the past 25 years he has made his sound better and better with each release and now he has decided to change it up and do what everyone else is doing. There are too many pop artists out there; he had something no one else had before he started making pop music, and with this release he threw that out the window.
So, with that said, there are still some very good songs on this album that I find some enjoyment in, with one of them being the title track. The song does not quite fit the mold of a typical pop song, but is more of a mix between pop and techno; so basically it has a pretty sweet beat. The first time I heard the song I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it and how much I got into it. The track is super catchy, and easily one of my favorites on the album. "Steal My Show" is a little slower than the rest of the album, but it feels way too soft for TobyMac. When I hear the song it just does not fit him at all; it definitely does not sound right to me. However, I really love the lyrics. The song basically has the same concept of Lecrae's "Background," since both of them talk about sitting back and letting God take over our lives and control what we do, which is something I have a feeling we could all work on.
"Forgiveness" has got to be my favorite track on the album. Lecrae seems to always do a fantastic job with almost any song he is on, and this track is no exception. I have to admit Toby did a pretty good job rapping on this track too, something it seems he has not done in a really long time. The next song with a guest artists, "Unstoppable" with Blanca from Group 1 Crew, is another pretty sweet song that picks the speed up a little bit. The song definitely sounds a little more like Group 1 Crew's dance, funk music, which Toby pulls off pretty well. Blanca's background vocals also add a lot to the song, so I definitely love that he got her sing on the track. The final song with guest vocals, also happens to be the final song of the album, "Favorite Song," with Jamie Grace. If you do not think TobyMac has gone soft, just listen to this song and you will change your mind. The beat is what you would expect from a feel-good pop song: very upbeat and happy sounding. So, even though I am not a huge fan of the song, Toby was very smart to put Grace on the song because even though the style does not really suit him, it is her forte. She rescues the song in my opinion.
My hopes for this album were that TobyMac would go back to his roots a little more and do stuff like Portable Sounds and Welcome To Diverse City, but alas he did not. This album is almost entirely pop music, which after awhile gets kind of old. I can understand him trying to appeal to the younger generation and trying to make more radio friendly songs, but I almost feel like he compromised way too much on this record. Tonight had a pretty good balance of his older style and his new pop style, and it did pretty well; so, I almost wish he had at least stuck to the balance he had on that record. I do not want to completely bash the Eye On It, because if you like pop music, then more than likely you are going to enjoy this record; but the sound just does not fit him at all. Maybe you will think I am just crazy, whining about the past and how he does not sound as good as he used to, but to me this album just does not show how great of an artist TobyMac truly is. Toby is one of the greats of Christian music, and I will continually support him, so it is with great sadness that I say this album is a disappointment to me.
Favorite Song: Forgiveness (Feat. Lecrae)
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