Christian recording artist Toby Mac was one-third of the influential rap/rock group DC Talk before they took an extended intermission 11 years ago. He then launched a successful solo career which has garnered acclaim, a Grammy award and fans around the globe.
Toby Mac recently took some time to answer a few questions via telephone.
Q: You’re usually called a Christian hip-hop artist or Christian rapper, but how do you describe your sound?
TM: The short version is I call it urban rock. The longer is something I call hiprockfunksoul. It’s a melting pot of everything I grew up loving.
Q. What is the difference between Christian artists and secular? I mean, what are your goals and motivations?
TM: It all comes back to my faith. Sometimes I stumble, sometimes I fall, but my desire is that God be the center of my life. Real artists, Christian or secular, want their experiences poured into their art so it can inspire people.
Q. Your songs are all over pop culture –movies, television, video games—but not the overtly Christian ones. How would someone know you are a Christian?
TM: I think there are many songs on my records that the whole world can enjoy. I want my music to be out there. I love that my song "The Slam"
was used in "Transporter 2." Some Christians say “that’s a rated R movie.”I think sometimes we stay inside the building too much. We need to get out there as long as we are delivering something that’s passionate and real and uncompromised.
Q: “Wonderin’” on your last album “Tonight” seems to be talking about DC Talk rather wistfully.
TM: It’s a smiling glance back at the past. There’s always days when I look back and think “man, those were some good years. I wonder if we’ll ever do that again?”
Q: What would it take for a reunion to happen?
TM: Well, I’ve been working with the Diverse City band for as long as I was with DC Talk and these people are near and dear to me—we’re a family. I’d be turning my back on them if I went in that direction. The timing would have to be right for all three of us. We’re all still friends, and the relationships are healthy. It’s just a matter of when.
Q: In “Yours” on your first album you reflect on your younger days in the lyric: “Simple-minded little punk, thought I was the junk, nobody ever told me that my doo-doo stunk." Now that you are a Grammy winner and very successful who tells you that your doo-doo stinks?
TM: (laughs) A lot of people, starting with my wife and moving onto one of my best friends who is my manager. Then there’s my band. Trust me, my band will let me have it instantly. As a matter of fact, they did this morning. They called me out on a few things. I tend to walk with great men and great women who are willing to be honest with me even when it hurts and I love that about them.
Q: How do you stay grounded spiritually on the road?
TM: We have Bible studies and prayer time before the show and sometimes we often share what we’re learning. It’s a real thing out here, not just something we say on stage. We are the body of Christ and try to use our time wisely and go deeper.
Q: What can concertgoers expect in Davis?
TM: It’s definitely a diverse lineup. House of Heroes is an incredible rock band, Brandon Heath is a great singer-songwriter performer and me and Diverse City are gonna offer up a big pot of soulful gumbo. We want everyone to come out and have a good time and maybe leave thinking more deeply about a lot of things--from your neighbor to God to who you are. __________________________________________________________
Reach Fairfield freelance writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org