Dubbed & Freq'd - A Remix Project
There was a time when Christian rock was little more than vapid, vanilla pop music designed to serve as a safe carrying case for cookie-cutter messages of praise and devotion. It was safe music for good kids who liked the beat of rock music but didn't want to run the risk of hearing lots of vulgarity or of supporting the promotion of messages they considered dangerous and wrong. No more. These days Christian pop music can take almost any form — hip-hop, death metal, ska — and the religious messages are very often hidden in lyrics that sound superficially like love songs. TobyMac, who is basically the Justin Timberlake of Christian pop, has always bucked the latter trend while embracing the former: his music is resolutely beat-based, but his lyrics are unabashedly devotional. "Boomin'" includes a couplet that nicely summarizes his approach: "Boomin' out the stereo system/Here to rep the Most High with this one." With Dubbed & Freq'd, tobyMac consolidates his bid for the status of World's Funkiest Jesus Freak (a designation he has cheerfully co-opted in several songs). The program consists of songs taken from Tonight and Portable Sounds, presented in new mixes that run the stylistic gamut from staggering, off-kilter dubstep ("Start Somewhere," the gorgeously Bassnectar-ish "City on Our Knees") to synth funk ("Captured") and from stomping electro ("Showstopper") to squidgy house ("Tonight"). There are moments of glorious weirdness, several of them occurring during the clattery and clangorous dubstep mix of "Start Somewhere," and a few of irritating pretense (note the fake Jamaican accent on the reggae-tinged "Hold On"). But overall, the joyful and fun easily outweigh the annoying on this fine collection.