For the most part, tobyMac’s second solo effort, Welcome to Diverse City, lives up to its name. Artist, producer and label-head tobyMac builds divergent sounds from ’70s funk, rock, punk and spoken word into memorable songs riddled with catchy pop hooks. It is this pop sensibility, culled from his years with dc talk, that lifts tobyMac’s tunes above Christian music’s other hip-hop projects. The songs, most notably the title track and its close cousin, “Getaway Car,” just beg a toe-tapping, head-bobbing response.
Less successful are the rock-rap offerings that were the highlight of tobyMac’s first album. “Slam” sounds like “Extreme Days,” part two, and borrows far too liberally from P.O.D.’s “Boom.” “Catchafire (Whoopsi Daisy)” has a more original vibe and down-tempo rhythm, a House of Pain-like chorus and Papa San’s reggae bridge.
“Gotta Go” is an interesting peek inside tobyMac’s busy life. It captures an afternoon of phone calls in the midst of managing his record label, Gotee; recording his album; and getting ready for a show. This slice-of-the-artist’s-life is not uncommon in hip-hop, but the humility and honesty make the track refreshing. Instead of the “nobody rocks the mic like me,” listeners get “Can’t sing with this hanging over me / But the show must go on / Lord, set me free.”
Yet, ultimately, it is tobyMac’s son Truett, a.k.a. TruDog, who once again steals the show. There is something downright enjoyable about listening to TruDog’s growing hip-hop jargon. TruDog may just be the most underpaid performer in music; for his hard work, all he got was a Happy Meal.
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