Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

In an industry where artists are increasingly trying to redefine themselves just to stay alive, contemporary Christian music artist TobyMac is the only singer from DC Talk, a Christian boy band of the early 90s, who has made a successful transition to being a solo artist. With a style some might call “Eminem-lite,” he’s released two gold-selling recordings in the last few years, and he is already getting lots of airplay and strong reviews for his latest effort, “Portable Sounds.” With a mix of pop, hip hop, and a tiny bit of rock, TobyMac gives longtime fans what they’re looking for–a tried and true formula of slick, high-energy, positive songs that stay true to his Christian roots.

While TobyMac has often said in interviews that one of his passions is to bring more hip hop music to the Christian music industry, I have to say that the tracks that stand out the most on “Sounds” are the ones with more of a pop flavor. Songs like “Made to love” and “Suddenly” are catchy yet sincere in their reflections on the nature of God, and a song like “One World” may not be destined for mainstream success, but it does reflect a certain worldview maturity in comparison to some of the singer’s past efforts.

My quibbles with “Sounds” come on the hip hop/rap songs like “Hype Man” and “Feelin’ So Fly” that feel a little dated and contrived while a song like “No Signal” just feels a little bit silly. But then I listened to the two songs on “Sounds” that really rock–“Boomin'” and “Ignition,” and I was transported back to the days when I (and everyone else I knew) listened to TobyMac growl and shout on the classic Christian anthem “Jesus Freak.”

Both “Boomin'” and “Ignition” have the same intensity but with a little more sophistication and a little less cheese. They are bound to become the new anthems of a new generation as well as the kind of music that may keep the Christian music industry alive and well–for now.

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