Kevin Michael McKeehan (a.k.a. TobyMac) is more than a pioneer of Christian hip-hop; he is a triple-threat rapper, songwriter, and record producer whose uplifting messages, love of a banging groove, and dedication to unity through diversity have helped to expand CCM’s boundaries. His mission started while he was a member of the trio DC Talk, with their groundbreaking fusion of rap and rock, and has only grown more dynamic since he went solo in 2000. The classic DC Talk sound informs a lot of his work, such as 2007’s Portable Sounds, a secular crossover success. But it shares space with TobyMac’s love of R&B and disco; the seemingly opposite worlds of church and nightclub melt into one another on wildly catchy hits like “Feel It” and “Edge of My Seat.” This vibe has carried over to a string of remix albums, beginning with 2003’s Re:Mix Momentum, that incorporate EDM into sacred music, in the process helping to lay the groundwork for a 21st-century boom in Christian outfits such as for KING & COUNTRY and ELEVATION RHYTHM who express faith through dance pop. But perhaps the most moving expressions of TobyMac’s belief in cultural unity are his genre-bending forays into urban contemporary gospel. After all, a song like the funk-inspired “Lose My Soul,” a 2009 hit featuring gospel superstars Kirk Franklin and Mandisa, is a testament to how Christians from different walks of life can join together and celebrate their faith in God. That’s the TobyMac way.
BORNOctober 22, 1964