Meet tobyMac

“When you’ve spent over a dozen years as one-third of an entity,” says tobyMac, “then a part of you starts to wonder how much of what the band does is really you. So I guess the short answer to why do a solo album is because I needed to find out who I was as a solo artist.”

The ‘entity’ to which tobyMac refers is multi-platinum recording group dc talk, which he and friends Michael Tait and Kevin Max formed in the late 1980’s. After a decade of trend-setting musical development, award-winning album releases and exhaustive touring, each man is now taking time to express himself through solo musical works. “I don’t want to describe dc talk in restrictive terms,” tobyMac continues. “But when you collaborate, by necessity, a little personal vision is lost in the translation. And when you achieve success at the level that God has blessed dc talk with, expectations sometimes run contrary to what your natural instincts as an artist might be.”

Momentum really started with my wife and I sitting down and praying, seeing if I was supposed to make a record on my own. I wasn’t feeling all that creative at the end of dc talk’s Supernatural tour, so we prayed a real specific prayer. Once I felt I was supposed to do this, then we began praying for creativity. All of a sudden, there was this outpouring. With Momentum, I blinked and suddenly had 25 or 30 song ideas. Basically a blank canvas with limitless colors.”

The first fruit of tobyMac’s solo work, the title song from the motion picture Extreme Days, spent a record ten weeks at the top of the CCM Update Rock charts. However, the track wasn’t the hip-hop opus many were expecting to be tobyMac’s initial single, instead it was a slamming, rap core track, which he says shouldn’t surprise long time fans. “A lot of times people forget that we have had dirty, distorted guitars on all of dc talk’s records. A couple other songs on Momentum that fall in that vein are “Let’s Get This Party Started” and “Yours.” tobyMac adds, “I’ve been merging guitars, beats and rhymes since 1989. Combining those things is like a slice of heaven to me.”

A full palette of hip-hop, rap, rock, pop and R&B influences are brought together on Momentum. tobyMac explains. “I felt a desire to get back to a hip-hop base: call and response, crowd and artist interaction, the community feeling that hip-hop engenders. There are R&B based songs like “Wondering Why” and “Somebody’s Watching.” There’s a couple of hip-hop, ‘chanty’ kind of songs and some funk-based songs like “J Train” as well as some laid back, acoustic rap like “Do You Know.” On “J Train,” tobyMac finally got to work with longtime friend, Kirk Franklin. “Kirk and I have been trying to get together on a song for several years now,” states tobyMac. “Finally, it happened. We share a love for crushing walls and stereotypes that keep gospel music from interfacing with contemporary Christian music, black from white, God music from the mainstream.”

For Momentum, tobyMac says he wanted his lyrics to be less introspective and more community oriented. “Hip-hop is always about community. In my case, it’s about my family, the family of God - just different associations I’m expressing a love for. I’m looking at society and reflecting it in my songs whether it’s a song about my faith in God and how I find strength in that, or a very personal lyric directed at my son. I’ve always written from the perspective of moving people to the next level of thought, feeling, soul consciousness and God consciousness. Connecting with people, causing people to think.”

As a youth growing up in the northern Virginia suburbs adjacent to DC, tobyMac recalls immediately being attracted to the beats, rhymes and production of early rap music. “I remember hearing a Kurtis Blow/Trouble Funk song on the radio and going to a local record, and they didn’t have it. Since I couldn’t drive yet, I took the Metrorail into downtown DC and found a store that had that song; I bought the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rappers Delight” that day as well. From there, it just caught fire. I fell in love with hip-hop music.”

Whether it's as a husband who just celebrated his eighth anniversary, father of a three-year-old son, performer, song-writer and producer, businessman or President of Gotee Records, tobyMac has always been a man driven and committed in every area of his life. There is no doubt that he has what it takes to be a successful solo artist in today's music market -- make no mistake -- tobyMac's up for the challenge and ready to take the industry by storm.

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