tmacYeah, it's a bit late, but as TobyMac approaches the release of his fifth album of original material, how about a review of his third (!) collection of retweakings of some of his previously-released material?

Dubbed & Freq'd:A Remix Project

Artist: TobyMac
(Forefront)

Yeah, it's a bit late, but as TobyMac approaches the release of his fifth album of original material, how about a review of his third (!) collection of retweakings of some of his previously-released material?

If his remix albums are any indication of what Mr. McKeehan puts in his ears between his consistent string of gold-selling proper longplayers, Dubbed &Freq'd  finds him heavily, though not exclusively, under the whooshing, wobbly sounds of dubstep. Or at least the cadre of post-producers he has let loose on twelve songs from Portable Sounds and Tonight  have been. But to the betterment-or at least, to coin a word, equalment-of the source tunes? Would "mixed bag" be too cliche of a reply to that question of this kind of project?

Cliches often have their roots in truth, though, don't they? The treatment given to the narratively shambolic "City On Our Knees" sounds like someone's (remixer J. Snax, specifically) shot at being sonically audacious on a major label album without regard to enhancing the lyric, confused as that may be; so, maybe it's appropriately noisy? "Made To Love" strikes a similarly ponderously cacophonous note  More fittingly reigning in the style's sonic pallet to Mac's words and apparent intentions is Telemitry's spin on "Hold On," where the original's light calypso flavor's retained to delightful enough effect.

As the set wears on, Mac's mixers' influence broaden up some. Kevin Powell's take on "Captured" might be mistaken for late '80s Depeche Mode in a tribal house mood. The already-remixed-once-or-twice-
already "Lose my Soul" here resembles a mid-tempo Rihanna burner, regardless of Mandissa's presence on it; one may wonder how she and Mac's other guest on the track, Kirk Franklin, square that number's anti-greed couplets with their next appearance on TBN or at a conference aligned with a word-of--faith organization, yes?

The generally edgier sonics given proven fan faves lend some gravitas to Mac's persona, too. It adds an appropriate foreboding to "Ignition" and a patina to (Jesus) freakiness to the originally les freaky 'Boomin'." Still, though it's easy enough to hear an apt spiritual reapplication of "Ride or die!," it's freaky in a funny way to hear Mac crib from a hard arse such as DMX.

The collection ends with another step into dubbiness with "a treatment of "Start Somewhere" where what sounds like a synthesized elephant call makes for a memorable pre-chorus hook.

The question remains what Mac, or any other essentially pop act releasing a remix album of harder versions of their work, wants to accomplish with this kind of album. An alternate creative outlet that keeps fans buying, gives a leg-up to newbie or under-recognized producers in music in the hazy fringe of the evangelighetto subculture as it lends cred' to Mac that his wider format radio hits don't and gives some of all the above something to dance to? That about covers the options, right? Whatever the impetus, Mac comes correct more often than not here.

Jamie Lee Rake

3nhalf