TobyMac keeps cruising with No. 1 Billboard 200 album and No. 1 Christian single.
TobyMac may describe his eclectic, multigenre fusion as "music for the minivan," but it's proved to be a super-charged vehicle that consistently drives him to the top of the charts. "Me Without You," the lead single from "Eye on It" (Aug. 28, Forefront Records), becomes his fifth No. 1 on Billboard's Christian Songs list while the album tops the Billboard 200, selling 69,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"Eye on It" becomes the first Christian album to top the Billboard 200 since LeAnn Rimes' "You Light Up My Life-Inspirational Songs" snagged the top spot in 1997. It's only the third Christian album to claim the Billboard 200 throne.
"There really isn't anyone else like Toby in Christian music. He has an incredibly broad fan base," EMI Christian Music Group VP of marketing David Sylvester says. "When you look at the demographics of his fans, it's young kids, their parents, teens and up. He communicates authentically to people wherever they are in life, which speaks volumes about his artistry."
The five-time Grammy Award winner began his career as Toby McKeehan, one-third of pioneering Christian rap/rock group dcTalk, before going solo with "Momentum" in 2001. He's followed with three studio albums, including 2010's "Tonight", which spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Christian Albums chart, as well as three remix projects, a live album and a Christmas collection.
"Eye on It", his fifth studio set, features some of TobyMac's most personal work yet, including "Family" and "Made for You," inspired by his wife, Amanda. "I'm coming to realize what I'm going through can't be that much different than what everyone else is going through," he says. "The valleys and mountaintops in my life can't be that much different-different names and different faces, but my personal experiences actually communicate to other people. I don't think I had the confidence to believe that before."
"Me Without You" is definitely resonating with his audience. TobyMac describes the song as a summer jam with a message. "It's about [living] without the absolute love of your life-in my case, the Lord," he says. "Sometimes to realize what you have in a relationship, you have to think about what you'd do without it."
"Eye on It" features several special guests, including rapper Lecrae on the soulful "Forgiveness." Jamie Grace-who won the Gospel Music Assn.'s 2012 Dove Award for new artist after signing to Gotee, the indie label TobyMac founded in 1994 with partner Joey Elwood-appears on "Favorite Song." TobyMac's 14-year-old son Truett, who made his recording debut with dad at age 3, contributes to the upbeat "Mac Daddy."
"Every time he releases a record, he raises the bar," Sylvester says. "He has an uncanny ability to blend elements of pop, rock, soul and hip-hop into something totally unique, and this record is no exception."
Since going solo, TobyMac has placed 20 singles on the Christian Songs chart, and his genre-bending sound has carried him beyond the usual avenues available to Christian acts. He's appeared on "The View" and made street-week visits to "Fox & Friends" and "Good Morning America." His music has been featured on Major League Baseball's "30 Clubs in 30 Days" series, the Golf Channel, ESPN, the NFL Network and in numerous films and TV shows.
Always a road warrior, TobyMac will headline the Winter Jam West Coast tour and his own "Eye on It" run with Grace and Chris August this fall before embarking on the Hits Deep tour, featuring Grace, August, Group 1 Crew and others, in December. "[It's] a tour I've been dreaming about," he says. "We came up with this concept of going back to a Motown revue, where a bunch of artists share one band. My Diverse City band is going to play, and it's going to be a night of hits."