The Mac Attack!: tobyMac's
'Diverse City' Takes Over
Compiled by Jennifer E. Jones
CBN.com Associate Producer
tobyMac wants to start a revolution, one that will sweep through
cities and erase the divisive lines that keep people apart. This Grammy-winning
artist sees his opportunity in the society-shaping power of music. Crafting
the perfect songs to match his vision, tobyMac ignites the first spark with
Welcome to Diverse City.
The disc marked a return to tobyMac's hip-hop roots. As the title implies,
Diverse City is an album bursting with musical flavors and nuances,
and yet this stylistic blend finds unity through faith as it's threaded through
a melding urban rock and hip-hop frame. Reaching into a world of different
sounds and cultures, this album knits it all together with a genuine artist's
"I'm not on a mission to flex musical diversity as much as possible,
but I don't fear it," Toby "tobyMac" McKeehan admits. "I
don't fear where the music is taking me. There's a blending going on as I
drop it all in the pot making what I call musical gumbo."
Case in point, the title track recalls a time when disco rolled into funk
with groups like the Gap Band and Parliament. Building upon this throwback
style, tobyMac infuses new life with melodies that transform the energy into
a celebration of races united as a single city on a shining hill as described
in Matthew 5:14 -- You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot
be hidden.... After moving feet with its retro revival touches, the album
trades in the dancing shoes for bangin' heads as "Slam" and "Phenomenon."
Then, "Gone" uses a progressive pop style to tell about a friend
who gave her disrespectful boyfriend the curbside-kick.
"My style is diversity; it always has been," says tobyMac, who co-produced
the album. "It's about taking hip-hop and injecting pop melodies and
guitars and harmonicas and whatever else it takes to make the song fit the
message I'm trying to communicate."
In regards to the message, the new album reflects a shift in the way he expresses
ideas. Whereas past albums tended to tackle issues in a more universal manner,
Welcome to Diverse City takes a closer look at specific people, sometimes
himself, problems, and situations as real life backdrops to the lyrics. This
approach, which exudes a more personal touch, adds empathy to a tale of loneliness
("Atmosphere"), urgency to a call for change ("Getaway Car"),
and humor to a frustrated confession of days short on time ("Gotta Go").
The album's most personal song, "Burn For You," even tackles the
renewed life that tobyMac experienced after adopting twins two years ago.
"In the past I dealt head-on with social issues, but I'm starting to
see that social issues come down to real lives," says tobyMac. "As
you dig into personal issues and find resolve in God, social issues will begin
to take care of themselves."
Throughout the 90s, tobyMac achieved considerable success with his Grammy-winning
group dc talk, collecting a number of gold and platinum albums with seven
million combined copies sold. As the group moved into the rearview window,
tobyMac boldly stepped out on his own with his solo debut, Momentum.
Earning rave reviews from Billboard to CCM Magazine, the
2001 album sold over 400,000 copies and landed two #1 singles, "Extreme
Days" and "Somebody's Watching Me." The D.C.-born artist went
on to win several Dove Awards, including Producer of the Year, and two BMI
honors as Christian Songwriter of the Year.
In 2002, tobyMac complemented his debut with the holiday single "This
Christmas" and the Momentum DVD, while Re:Mix Momentum,
which delivered three more Top 10 hits, followed in 2003. That same year,
Momentum lived up to its name as tobyMac topped CCM Magazine's
"25 Most Important Artists Shaping Christian Music Today" and placed
fourth on their "25 Powerful People Who Have Made Christian Music What
It Is Today." During these past few years, tobyMac toured incessantly
as a headliner in addition to co-headlining with Kirk Franklin and sharing
stages with Third Day, among others.
Showing everyone he's more than just "talk," tobyMac put his artistic
vision and values back into action with Welcome to Diverse City,
another album living up to its title. "People fashion a great city by
holding tight the beauty of our differences with the bonds of our unity,"
he concludes. "My new album invites people to ponder how they relate
to each other and to God and how He relates to them, but at the same time,
I know it's gonna drop a bomb that'll make any listener feel the energy.
Now that's celebrating Diverse City!"
to Diverse City.
Visit tobyMac online.
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