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Welcome to Diverse City - Click to view! tobymac has name recognition. Allow me to demonstrate. I have been receiving pre-releases, press kits, and other music related mail for as long as my daughter has been able to make the journey to the mailbox. So needless to say she has become familiar with the manila bubble packaging that this type of content generally arrives in. This day was no different than any other — the mail man approached and my daughter took her running leap out the door to greet him. She ran back and naturally hands me the bills and junk mail while she gladly opens the fun package (isn't that sweet). Then the jumping and joy begins. I am thinking that we've won some large sum of money or a brick of gold or something of incredible value ... that's what I get for thinking. She hands me the CD and immediately says, "Its tobymac, I know I'll love this CD!!" That my friends is name recognition. She had not as much heard the annoyingly infectious single "Gone" and already was confessing her undying love for this piece of plastic. Bless her heart.

tobymac has finally released his follow up to the very successful selling Momentum. After originally planning to title his sophomore release Phenomenon and have it in stores last year, toby instead hit the road in full force and allowed himself more time to let the creative juices flow. When they stopped flowing, Diverse City was born, recorded, mastered, pressed and then distributed. The cover art which includes the traditional reggae colors of green, yellow and red pay homage to his wife's Jamaican heritage while also acting as a symbol of diverseness.

The lyrics on this record are very elementary and almost laughable. Here for your consideration are three examples (Note: There are more... however, space is quite valuable in this review):

"Slackin' off like a bum, I'm feelin' ho hum
I'm feelin' luke warm like the water in my tub
Started out and we was hot, looked up and now we're not
We had that fire like we was boilin' in a pot"

"You got your pipeline clogged man get that puppy routed
You got the style down and since you don't know about it"

"Much obliged got the head of a moose
So mount me on the wall of your livin' room"

Other times they barely make sense. Look at this rambling:

"You got that right, I'm'a rock the Morse code tonight
Transmit 'n throwin' fits 'n paparazzi like zits
Get flipped out and squeezed fresh like juicy sun kissed
And if I miss with my missiles you're still gonna sizzle
'Cause I frizzle fry radiation style worldwide"

Perhaps the creative juices could have flowed a bit longer on the lyrical tip? There are more creative things being written in your local 2nd grade creative writing class than on this record. It is honestly that embarrassing.

The music is your average, recycled Top 40 Pop sounds. "Hey Now" is able to give the record that Nelly - Country Grammar feel. This sound is easily achieved thanks to the mediocre raps of Coffee and Bonafide (GRITS). "Catchafire (Whoopsi-Daisy)" and "The Slam" exceed the rapcore quota for the record. "The Slam" also has the distinct pleasure of serving as tobymac's worst musical collabartion to date. Not only do we get to hear the overplayed rap/rock sound, we are also subjected to the rapping of T-Bone, aka Boney Bone Carlone, aka Boney Sparano, aka whatever other gangsta name he can think of. If you thought the lyrics were horrible before, you are in for a treat! For the sake of your precious time I will only include a few lines:

"The father slammed it like Shaq
For Latinos and Blacks
Packin' them straps
And Caucasians hooked on Ecstasy and the crack...
...We slam dunkin' and keep it jumpin' like jumper cables
And keep the crowd rowdy like Jesus tossin' them temple tables"

The aforementioned "Gone" serves as the summery happy song that you catch yourself humming while clipping your toenails. "Getaway Car," "Atmosphere remix ft. dc talk" and "Stories (Down To The Bottom) ft. Superchic[k]," add nothing to the already dying album and would have never been missed. "Phenomenon" is another rocky rap song saved only by the genius that is Paul Meany (Mute Math and Earthsuit). The only enjoyable song is the title track "Diverse City." This truly fun throwback to the funk era of Parliament and War; can seriously get your caboose grooving and shaking. It is also the only song with meaningful lyrics;

"Said we're Diverse City, we're colorful goods
It's just a state of mind, we gonna shine the way that we should, baby
So, if you wanna praise you can come on down
Cause this freak show's leaving the ground"

This record is only worth the price if you collect dc talk memorabilia. Otherwise I would seriously avoid this CD. Save your money and go see Napoleon Dynamite — at least that way you know that you're supposed to laugh.
- Josh Weekly
October 2004
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