dcTalk helped me become a Christian. I used to mock their cheesy and outdated Christian Television Association ads over a decade ago, then I saw their Welcome to the Freak Show live concert on VHS and couldn’t believe they were a Christian band. Surely Christian music had guys in braces playing harps and singing, “Hallelujah,” all the time. Right? Wrong-thankfully. I loved that album and listened to the tape so many times I destroyed it. Then when Jars of Clay, Newsboys and delirious came along all my misconceptions about Christianity were swept away. Contemporary Christian music has been an integral part of my life since.
dcTalk’s last album of new material, 1998’s Supernatural, was certainly a fitting swansong from the groundbreaking boys, and the demand for an immediate re-union was high. I don’t think many people expected TobyMac to be the most successful solo artist after the split. With the soaring voices of Michael Tait and Kevin Max “that guy that does all the rapping” had to work hard to get noticed. But he did, and it paid off.
With his three solo albums (Momentum, Welcome to Diverse City and Portable Sounds) each better than the last, and his own label Gotee Records, he continues to shine in the hip-hop arena.
Alive and Transported is his first live DVD/CD. He looks as young and as energetic as he did when he first made an impression on me all those years ago. With the hits from his albums, plus dcTalk’s anthem, Jesus Freak, this 20 song collection won’t allow you to stop grooving. The CD and DVD collect the same songs, but the DVD has a nifty bonus; an almost one hour long doco on the man himself as he discusses life, touring, family and the sometimes mundane, sometimes extraordinary ways he met his current band mates. Toby’s voice sounds more powerful than ever and he never loses a beat throughout the concert’s entirety on memorable beats like Boomin’, Made To Love and Extreme Days. It must be exhausting, but moved by the adoration of the huge crowd and his passion for Christ, the guys just keeps rocking, and rapping. It doesn’t have the fancy multimedia of a U2 show, or the fancy footwork of a Justin Timberlake show, but these guys (and girl) know how to party.
The DVD needs big speakers and a big TV to really show the power and enthusiasm coming from the stage. The editing adds much colour and motion to the event and it is a feast for your eyes as well as ears. Though he has had moderate success in the mainstream music scene, with songs being used in TV ads and films, Toby doesn’t shy away from his Christian roots. He’s not ashamed of the gospel, and like his friend and collaborator, the equally awesome Kirk Franklin, he spills out spiritual authenticity along with his creativity. One of the greatest blessings of being a believer is that we have music like this, that honours God and gets your body moving.
And, just so you know, I used one of his songs on the Supanova Perth video seen below. Like me, you may just be surprised that there’s no harps and Hallelujahs here, but you won’t be disappointed. Give it a shot.