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This is not a Test
Review: This Is Not a Test- TobyMac
By Abby Phillips
Widely-renowned music artist tobyMac released his seventh studio album, This Is Not a Test, on August 14, 2015. Toby’s latest work is based on the concept that we don’t “get practice runs in life,” but instead must live every minute that we have been given. The musical style of This Is Not a Test is hard to classify in any one category, though it sounds like a mixture of hip-hop, pop, and jazz. Toby names this contagious confection “a big ‘ole pot of gumbo,” but whatever you call it, This Is Not a Test is a wake-up call to Christians to live life fervently for Christ.
This Is Not a Test features the hit radio single, “Beyond Me,” which was released in January of 2015. Consistent with the theme of this album, “Beyond Me” is a call for God to take us to the place spiritually where we are totally dependent on Him, thus the name of the track. “Beyond Me” is by far the most pop-sounding song on the record, reminiscent of Toby’s last album, Eye On It (2012).
Toby goes for more of an old-school sound on a couple of the tracks, “Backseat Driver” and “Like a Match.” “Like a Match” blends the pop sounds found in Eye On It with deeper rock reverberations from his early days. In “Like a Match,” Toby truthfully proclaims that if our Christianity is real, “we gotta show it,” because if it isn’t, the world is “sure gonna know it.”
TobyMac features his son, Tru, and new Gotee Records artist, Hollyn, on “Backseat Driver.” This urban-sounding track skillfully communicates Toby’s wish not to be a “backseat driver” in his faith, but to let God “take the wheel” and direct where his life goes. Hollyn and Tru add to this message with their vocals in the chorus and second verse. “Backseat Driver” contains good truth relevant to Christians today, and it also has a catchy beat that any driver can enjoy.
DC Talk fans get a unique treat with track no. 10, “Love Feels Like.” This special song features former members of DC Talk, Kevin Max and Michael Tait. Written from the perspective of a tired Christian, “Love Feels Like” reminds us that any time we love people, we will get tired and discouraged. However, in the bridge, Toby quotes 1 Corinthians 13, reminding us that “the greatest of these is love.” It is also an encouraging reminder to other Christians that everyone experiences low times, but as DC Talk reminds us, love is “worth everything you put in.”
“Till The Day I Die (feat. NF)” is a very personal track for Toby. In fact, this potent track could be described as his theme song. “Till The Day I Die” boldly proclaims that “ ‘Til the wheels fall off, ‘til the spotlight fades, I will lift your banner high…. For the rest of my days, I’ll lay it all on the line.” A powerful theme, the message for this song arose out of a question Toby is frequently asked, “How long are you going to keep doing this (the music ministry)?” “Till The Day I Die” is Toby’s answer to this inquiry; an inspiration to all Christians that we should keep laying “it all on the line” until the day we die.
This Is Not a Test, to me, is tobyMac’s best album yet. In it, Toby combines catchy music with a deep message that is sure to please both a newer and an older generation of listeners. This album challenges all hearers to not quit living for Christ, but to use every second of their lives to reach this world for Christ. With that theme in mind, let’s “live every second, make it count for You (Christ).”
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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