So, why is a 52-year-old man listening to Toby Mac? Well, for one thing my youngest son, who will be ten this month, loves Toby Mac’s music along with DC Talk, the three-man group that helped launch Toby.
Another reason is that my birthday was in September and my wife presented me with a copy of “Tonight,” Toby Mac’s latest CD. Yes, it was released in February 2010, but we hadn’t picked up a copy earlier. We’ve been too busy listening to his previous release, Portable Sounds, and classic DC Talk music over and over again.
Born Kevin Michael McKeehan and more recently known as Toby McKeehan, Toby Mac joined DC Talk in 1989 and stayed with them until they took a break in 2000. Since then, the three DC (as in Decent Christian) Talk members have released compilation CDs and may tour together in 2011. One of the three, Michael Tait, is now lead singer for the Newsboys. Kevin Max, the third member of the group, is a solo singer based out of Nashville.
Most likely you’re familiar with TobyMac and DC Talk given their widespread influence on contemporary Christian music. A number of Christian rap artists rose up in the 1980s, but none have reached the level of recognition enjoyed by Toby. The Grammy Award and Dove Award winning artist, who turns 46 this month, continues to sing a blend of hip-hop, rock, funk and soft ballads, pointing listeners to Jesus Christ and meeting them on their own turf.
Mac uses hip-hop language throughout his music, terminology most of us “mature folks” wouldn’t understand. Passionate about racial reconciliation and winning the hearts of disenchanted young people, Mac crosses racial and cultural divides by working with leading artists such as Kirk Franklin, Mandisa, Israel Houghton, Siti Monroe and Beckah Shae. Skillet’s John Cooper lends his voice to the title song and Relient K’s Matt Thiessen can be heard on “Wonderin.”
Yes, the style of music certainly doesn’t suit everyone’s tastes, but I like it. On “Tonight,” there is something for everyone from the danceable “Funky Jesus Music” to the groovin’ “Tonight” title song to the beautiful and thought-provoking “City on Our Knees.” LoudNClear is a kid’s favorite as Mac’s now 12-year-old son, Truett, holds sway and as has been a custom does something to get himself into trouble.
Each of the 13 songs on “Tonight” offers a message and there is also a hidden fourteenth song, Funky Jesus Music Remix, that can be heard following some silence after the last song. Don’t take the hidden song seriously – it is meant to poke some fun at stereotypical church music.
Make A Difference
I first heard Toby Mac live at the 2007 Harvest Festival in Raleigh, NC, with my wife and our two boys. Along with my youngest son, Andrew, we’ll be hearing Toby Mac live later this month when he joins with Michael W. Smith and Third Day in Fayetteville, NC for the “Make A Difference Tour” benefitting World Vision. Jason Gray was just added to the tour and Max Lucado will be speaking.
Tonight is available at Christian bookstores, online at Amazon and can be downloaded via iTunes. Yes, I have a Mac (as in Apple) and a Shuffle, so I get to hear this CD while I’m working or when I take a walk. Toby Mac’s fourth solo CD may be his best one yet, a worthy compilation of contemporary Christian music.
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