Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Clever really. You're a natural musical eclectic who enjoys everything from street-level hip-hop, hard edged rock to old skool funk and your new album reflects all these elements to such an extent that it doesn't sound like an album at all, merely different tracks in different styles. Suddenly you have a brainwave on how to pull all the diverse sounds together. Make the theme of the album. diversity. Now, with dc Talk a fast receding memory (did anybody REALLY believe that PR guff about their break being a temporary sabbatical?) we're left to consider the new solo offering from Toby McKeehan. In many ways just as impressive as 'Momentum', "It's been a long time coming/ but I'm serving up the sequel," he announces on the opener "Hey Now" which, though it has some funky guitar and sassy horns, is not the strongest of starts. But soon the multi-talented rapper, singer, studio whiz is in hitting form. For those who longed for another rock-rap with the same surging power as "Extreme Days", "The Slam" will do it for you. "Atmosphere" is, ahem, atmospheric, with a wistful sung hook and a shuffling beat. It could have been a dc Talk track from their 'Supernatural' period. "Gone" (not the Switchfoot song) isn't hip-hop in any shape or form, instead it's a hooky rock opus that wouldn't have been out of place on an Audio Adrenaline album. But then comes the one and only problem on the album. "Tru Dog: The Return" with Toby's squeaky voiced son rapping over some phat rhythms and a whole heap of electronic trickery. Our American cousins may find it cute but this and subsequent quixotic appearances of Truett are OTT and self-indulgent. Clearly Toby hasn't read the recording rule book about keeping your kids off the goods. But the album thankfully gets back to form with "Diverse City", a track which sports that classic '70s funk groove (ala Gap Band, Rick James) that Toby promised in those pre-release interviews. Throughout, hip-hop culture's tradition of lots of interludes made up of song fragments, mini-raps and zany interjections is adhered to with a batch of spoof answerphone messages definitely raising a smile. And the cut "Ill-M-I" has one of the most thunderously treated drums your ears have ever vibrated to. All in all, a delight. Guests T-Bone, Coffee (Grits) and Superchick all bring something fresh into the turbulent eclectic brew. It would have been a 10 square classic if it wasn't for those irritating contributions from TruDog.
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