TobyMac: High energy at 44

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Toby­Mac enjoys a brisk game of bas­ket­ball before hit­ting the stage. Pho­to by Eliza Marie Somers

A lit­tle Q& A with Chris­tian Hip-hop artist Toby­Mac, 44, from the archives. 

Q: You bring a lot of ener­gy to a show. How do you keep it up?

A: The music we play is ener­get­ic, and we feed off of that. My
con­certs are a big-par­ty atmos­phere. I love an intense con­cert, and
if I don’t soak two T-shirts I don’t feel like it was a good show.

Q: You were just in Den­ver this past spring. What are you bring­ing
that’s dif­fer­ent for your fans?

A: We have dif­fer­ent acts this time, and we will be a lit­tle more
focused on the hol­i­days. We’ll play songs that we are known for and
mix in some Christ­mas songs. Reliant K just put out a Christ­mas
album, so they will be doing touch­es of that.

Q: Your music has been picked up by ESPN, the tele­cast for the 2006
Olympic Games, trail­ers for movies (“Under­dog,” “Han­cock” to
name a few). How does that make you feel?

A: It’s dif­fer­ent. Obvi­ous­ly, Hol­ly­wood is buy­ing into it. The
music is rel­e­vant. It’s hap­pen­ing more and more. … I went to the
(Ten­nessee) Titans’ Mon­day-night foot­ball game. And I’m sit­ting way
up in the cheap seats with 70,000 peo­ple and my song “Boom­in“‘
comes on and the cheer­lead­ers are danc­ing to it. They played a full
cho­rus. I was like “This is crazy.” My face was all red and no
one knows.

Q: You co-found­ed the E.R.A.C.E. Foun­da­tion (Elim­i­nat­ing Racism and
Cre­at­ing Equal­i­ty). How does that work?

A: Our goal is to get peo­ple to dia­logue about race rela­tions. To
come togeth­er as one peo­ple even though we are all dif­fer­ent. We do
fundrais­ing for orga­ni­za­tions that help fos­ter that ide­al. We run
into a lot of peo­ple who don’t see it (dis­crim­i­na­tion) but if we
can begin to com­mu­ni­cate we can cor­rect that … to come togeth­er.

Q: You’re a father of five, a hus­band, own a record­ing stu­dio. How
do you find time to write music?

A: I go to bed ear­ly, wake up to take the lit­tle guy to school.
It’s well worth it to me being involved with my fam­i­ly. … I’ll
write some music when we’re on tour. … I write about my
rela­tion­ships, and my strug­gles and suc­cess with those
rela­tion­ships. And peo­ple can relate to them.

Q: Some of your favorite songs?

A: “Made to Love.” I’m com­plete­ly pas­sion­ate about it. It’s
real­ly spe­cial to me. And “Lose My Soul” seems to res­onate with a
lot of peo­ple.

Q: What bands do you lis­ten to and are influ­enced by?

A: I love so much music. The Police. Reg­gae. Bob Mar­ley. I love
hip-hop, Black Eyed Peas. I don’t agree with some of their
philoso­phies some­times. I have to go to Wal-Mart and buy the fam­i­ly
ver­sions (chuck­les). But I love that stuff.

Q: Is it frus­trat­ing to be clas­si­fied as a “Chris­tian” artist?

A: Absolute­ly, it’s frus­trat­ing. Some­times the Chris­tian audi­ence
ques­tions your faith when you branch out. But that is so far from
the truth. My faith means so much to me. And then some peo­ple are
turned off by the label. I want my music to fall on open ears. Like
U2. U2 just can’t be clas­si­fied because Bono has uni­ver­sal appeal.
He is such a great lyri­cist. I love lyrics.

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