TobyMac’s ‘Hits Deep Tour’ delivers exactly what it advertises
The name of Christian hip-hop artist TobyMac’s “Hits Deep Tour” has a double meaning.
“It’s called the ‘Hits Deep Tour’ because the night should be deep in hits,” TobyMac says about the concerts that also feature contemporary Christian acts Jeremy Camp, Jordan Feliz, Ryan Stevenson, We Are Messengers and Aaron Cole singing their best-known tunes.
“You’ll hear hit after hit after hit, songs you hear in the car or at home on the radio,” he says. “The show is supposed to be deep not just in hit songs, but deep in songs that hit you in a deep way.”
The tour comes to the Petersen Events Center in Oakland on March 23.
Talking about life
TobyMac’s headlining portion of the shows features tracks from “The Elements,” his first new collection of music in three years, which released Oct. 12. The tracks “I just need U” and “Everything” have received extensive radio play.
“In ‘The Elements,’ I’m talking about life in a very transparent way,” says TobyMac, a winner of Grammy, Dove, American Music and Billboard Music awards. His work has been nominated for Dove Awards every year since 2002.
“We’re waking up and deciding who we want to be each morning to people, to our friends and society,” he says. “You’re coming back limping through the door at the end of the day, thinking, ‘The world’s beating me down every day.’ That’s the element we all face.”
Born Kevin Michael McKeehan in 1964 in Fairfax, Va., TobyMac says he thinks of himself more as a pop singer, though he’s most often labeled as a hip-hop or rap artist.
“Growing up in northern Virginia, I heard a lot of hip-hop and that’s the music I fell in love with,” he says. “My whole life, my whole world has been very diverse. I’m married to a Jamaican woman and I have five kids, and two of them are adopted and they’re African- American.
“Definitely, there’s less and less rap in my music now. ‘Everything’ is more R&B and soul,” he says. “Rap will always be part of me, but at the end of the day, I’m just naturally doing what comes out of me. I make music befitting where I am at this stage in my life.”
‘Love Broke Thru’
One song on the “Hits Deep” play list that might intrigue Pittsburgh concert-goers is “Love Broke Thru,” from the 2015 album, “This Is Not a Test” — with this verse: “Yeah, it was late in the summer when the northeast breeze/Sang like a song thru the oak trees/Pennsylvania/She kind of caught my soul/Which had me a little more open than closed.”
What’s that about?
At age 13, TobyMac says, a friend invited him to a Christian summer camp somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania (“I don’t even remember where it was”).
As he lay in his sleeping bag one night, the message of the Christian gospel broke through, so to speak. He got up to find the youth pastor, prayed with him and “started walking with the Lord. In my mid-20s, I let go of religion and started walking with Jesus and going deeper and making music from my experience of life.”
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .