eyem all mixed 90 edited

A fascinating mix of sounds adorns an unassuming style

Eye’M All Mixed Up: Remixes
Artist: TobyMac
Label: Forefront Records/Capitol
Length: 11 tracks/43:48 minutes

I never knew booming beats, high tech wizardry and scratchy noises could sound so good. And this is a remix! What must the original sound like?

Normally, I think of a remix as a lesser creation, but hearing Eye’M All Mixed Up by TobyMac has my head swirling. It’s like stepping onto the dance floor and suddenly the lights go down, the music drops, and my senses are dazzled.

I’m out of my natural element, but developing an appreciation for art of the highest caliber, I’m impressed by such a wondrous blend of synthesized and organic sounds. I could never imagine this back when I first heard Jesus music. I’m grateful that a Christian artist could become so relevant to a new generation.

Those accustomed to more conservative fare may not relate, but for the young and those open to appreciating new ways of communicating this is entertaining and meaningful.  

As TobyMac sings, “It’s always been about the music/Hoping God would use it to set some people free.” His combination of truth and grace in an assuming style goes a long way towards that end.

Being a lover of verse, many lines caught my attention. One of the most dramatic is sung over a sublime quick-tempo beat, “I want to lose myself, lose myself to find you (repeats)/I don’t care how it sounds/Burn it all to the ground/Your kingdom I desire” (Lose Myself – Capital Kings Remix). I appreciate the willingness to endure any cost to gain what matters to God.

A powerful autobiographical moment relates to concert performances: “The crowd is calling out/They want the beat to drop/But what we really need is you.” This mature attitude is also reflected in the chorus: “If you want to steal my show/I’ll sit back and watch you go/If you got something to say/Go on and take it away” (Steal My Show – Jack Shocklee Remix). May every servant of Christ have a likeminded humility.

On “Mac Daddy (Tru’s Reality) (Telemitry Remix)” TobyMac gets playful and humorous as he recalls a time when he desperately wanted a Mac computer to begin mixing beats, “I want a Mac/I want a Mac, Daddy/I need a Mac/Them apples don’t grow on trees.” This world could use more lightheartedness in music. I applaud this subtle effort.

One of the most refreshing moments comes right after the opening, high-energy title track, “Cause we all make mistakes sometimes/And we all step across that line/Nothing sweeter than the day we find, we find forgiveness” (Forgiveness – feat. Lecrae, Neon Feather Remix). It resonates because it rings true.

How different the world might be if we started a gentle revolution along these lines by speaking life to those around us. “Speak life, speak life to the deadest darkest night/Speak life, speak life when the sun won’t shine and you don’t why/Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted/Watch them come alive as soon as you speak life” (Speak Life – Telemitry Remix).

I would say more about the music but words fail to convey the creativeness. Advances in technology elevate this to a level that did not exist back in the days when it was mostly organic instrumentation. It’s a little like the leap when Bob Dylan angered his folk music following by going electric. It shows the power of this means when used with restraint and a pop sensibility. It’s a fascinating mix of sounds.

My only disappointment, be it ever so slight, is that two tracks are remixed twice. I favored the first ones over the second ones that come towards the end.

It’s no wonder that TobyMac has met with so much success since his former group DC Talk disbanded. He knows what matters most and it’s obviously not what comes with being a pop star. His faithfulness to calling, as evidenced here, is as inspiring as the music.

Michael Dalton