In order to render a free opinion about this album, I have to start with a disclaimer. As is typical of most Tonéx albums, only parts of it carry Bible-based gospel messages. The other parts are just inventive and well-executed musical ideas.If you have specific ideas on how gospel should be, then this is not the Tonéx album for you. None of them are. You should rather pick up the latest from Fred Hammond or Byron Cage and call it a day. Otherwise, if you’re to enjoy any of this album, you can’t take it too seriously. It’s just not that kind of affair. You’ve been warned.
Bapost.o.g.i.c. opens with an old school devotional from Tonéx’s mother, the late E.B. Williams. Elder Betty made her mark on the Pronounced Toe-Nay track “Untitled” and later on her own solo album through her son’s independent record label. Her familiarly textured voice sets a tone that demands some measure of reverence.
Before giving reverence however, a humorous detour must be taken to lighten the mood. Using a chorus of his own multi-tracked vocals in the “Black Maverick” interlude, he builds one of the most hilarious choirs I’ve ever heard. And yet the “ensemble,” billed comically as Tonéx & The Southeast Couture Community Choir, squall in some impressively dramatized, diminished chord inversions.
“The Blood” coasts forward on one of the most unabashedly brazen grooves I’ve ever heard from the man himself. He parries his detractors in an effortless falsetto, “Keep on talking, brother. Keep on talking, sister. It’s okay because I’ve been forgiven.”
Rapstress Dona Vigor (aka Scarlet) is invited to trade verses with T. Bizzy for the urban catwalk anthem “My Attire.” Its warbling “don’t cha, don’t cha just love my attire?” hook thunders from a wall of faux-operatic voices. Tonéx answers back his own call from what seems to be the absolute zenith of his vocal range, “I liiiiiiiike it, yeah!” The entire guilty pleasure of a spectacle is 4-and-a-half minutes of over-stimulating audio for excess’s sake, and I can’t say I’m opposed to it. It is to those who like electric vocals with sharp, pointy beats as the Luther is to those who like burgers.
I need a minute to decide how to approach “The Funky Evidence.” The gleefully lopsided track, courtesy of San Diego beatsmith Enxo, uses a swatch of the obscure Richie Havens song “High Flying Bird.” Tonéx often parallels the shekinah feeling of being “drunk in the Spirit” with the feeling of being “high on marijuana.” If you can manage not to be offended by the comparison drawn, one of the top 5 most astounding tracks he’s ever recorded awaits on the other side. The track also pokes lighthearted fun at a traditional Apostolic method of receiving the Holy Ghost saying “They didn’t [have to] tell you you had the Holy Ghost. You knew you had it. They had to carry yo’ drunk butt to the car speakin’ in tongues in the back seat.”
“July 17th. Dear Tonéx. I just heard ‘Naked Truth’ on YouTube. And I am mad you cussed people out. You are going to hell. But I’m prayin’ for you in Jesus name. Take care. Bye bye.” – Tonéx, “A Year Ago.”
“A Year Ago 1967” warms some leftover handclaps from The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go,” adds some bells that probably belonged to Phil Spector’s wall of sound at some point, and seasons them into a keenly self-aware retro-fantastic pop track. Bapost.o.g.i.c. was first made available in August 2008, a year after the fallout from releasing the vitriolic “Naked Truth,” a scathing, profanity-laced criticism of the church at large. On the tongue-in-cheek “Year Ago,” he dismisses the tirade as simply one of the day’s hum-drum events: “Early to rise, early to bed, cooked and cleaned, went out of my head. But now I’m alright. Now I’m okay.”
The next track, “My Father’z House 1962,” makes a leap at putting controversy behind him by masterfully re-telling the story of the prodigal son over a rhythm track that’s as unsettled as a squirming child in Sunday service. Tonéx delivers the easily self-referential lines frankly. “Please overlook the way I smell. I know I look like hell, but my apology is sincere.” During a key point of the verses, the kick and snare get so out of sync with the vocals that you think it’s a mistake. The awkward rhythmic disparity illustrates the “state of despondency” that leads the son to come to himself and return to his father’s house. As the son comes back to his rightful place, so do the kick and snare. Genius.
“Make U Happy” drives home the point: he’s penitent. (Get the point? Good. Let’s dance.) Heavy with spaghetti western guitar samples, “Make U Happy” calls on the 1972 David Cassidy gem “I Just Wanna Make You Happy” to make itself clear. During the vamp, the gravitas of Tonéx’s “I feel a change, I feel a change” calls for forgiveness in full-on preacher mode and closes with some authentic small-church-with-no-air-conditioner hooping vocals. “Happy” ends in another self-referential moment allowing Cassidy to end the song asking “won’t you let me sing my songs for you?”
Shortly after the J. Dilla-esque “Jesus Saves” rumbles in, we’re greeted with the unassuming monologue saying “Yo, so why did I just get saved like two weeks ago? I’m for real, yo… For real!” In inimitable style, Tonéx squeaks out scratchy stacks of impossible vocals in octaves singing “I just want to testify how Jesus changed my life, and I just want to testify that Jesus saves.” As he makes his proclamation over the metallic neo-soul beat, you realize that whether you hate Tonéx or not, the truth is: Jesus does save. And that will preach all by itself.
Getting to the core of Baposto.g.i.c.’s mission, we encounter “Hurting Each Other,” which reimagines the Carpenters classic as a plea for unity in the body of Christ. “Let’s end denomination so we can see a kingdom manifestation. Why then, why should it be that we go on hurting each other?” The pounding title song “Bapost.o.g.i.c.” then expounds on the concept of mashing together COGIC, Apostolic, Methodist, Baptist, and other Christian doctrines by focusing on the common agreement that there is power in the blood of Jesus Christ.
You can crucify Tonéx all the day livelong for his contradictions and inconsistencies, but it doesn’t take much searching to find evidence of some one who is furiously fumbling towards Christ like the rest of us. As an added bonus, he happens to be a preternaturally gifted musician and singer. He has some eccentric faults which, depending on your background, may require some strong filters. But I guarantee you this. If you are able to spit out the seeds, Bapost.o.g.i.c. is some good watermelon.
Bapost.o.g.i.c., though previously available exclusively on Tonéx’s official website, made its digital debut along with 3 other releases on November 17, 2009. Buy yours today on Amazon.com, iTunes, and other digital retailers.
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