TobyMac followed his successful debut recording Momentum with a remix project that was served as an adequate interim release but suffered slightly from redundancy. The songs on his debut had already been spun continuously by fans for two years, giving Re:Mix Momentum a shortly-lived freshness. With last year seeing the release of his sophomore album, Welcome To Diverse City, McKeehan's follow-up remix project, aptly titled Renovating Diverse City, releases not even a full year later.
Renovating Diverse City has a lot more going for it from the start than Re:Mix Momentum did. The songs stray further from their originals this time around to give the project more of an alternative look at the songs from the original Diverse City album. In an attempt that proved to work to the project's benefit, TobyMac entered the studio to re-record vocals for several of the remixes on Renovating Diverse City. This helps some of the songs feel more like more natural mixes, as opposed to just manipulating what's available from the original track to make a more forced or contrived remix.
With that said, Renovating Diverse City has several highlights. The "d Dubb remix" for "The Slam" gives the song a more subtle approach that works nicely, while "Getaway Car" is given a lively reinvisioning. A club-friendly version of "Catchafire" may not be able to hold a candle to the original, but remains fun nonetheless. The remix of "Ill-M-I" from producers Doubledutch may drop the tasty pounding drum of the original, but at the same time allows TobyMac's version of the Soul Junk cover to stray much further from their 2000 original. "Gone" may represent the most drastic stylistic change of the remixes. While the original had a pop-punk/hip hop flare, most of the rock edge is dropped for a piano-driven and more melodic version. "Atmosphere" is also given quite an overhaul, featuring Liquid who gives a new Latin flavor to the song. To round out the album's track listing, Toby's appearance on Paul Wright's "West Coast Kid" from his 2003 debut record is tossed in for good measure but sticks out as a rather strange addition, especially since it's not even a remix. The only other song that didn't originally appear on Welcome To Diverse City is a new contribution from Toby's son Truett on "inTRUding Again" which is a cute bonus.
Next to Re:Mix Momentum, the mixes on Renovating Diverse City are stronger and the track selection leaner. While the project isn't nearly as good as McKeehan's original, the end product gives new life, albeit slightly premature, to an already impressive collection of songs.- Review date: 8/27/05, written by John DiBiase; "Renovated" on 9/20/05
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