Toby McKeehan, better known by his stage name TobyMac, is a Grammy-award winning Christian music artist who was one of the first well-known Christian rappers in the biz. He started his career in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1988 when he became one-third of the popular group dcTalk. For the next 13 years, they went on to win four Grammy awards and two nominations; as well as 16 Dove awards and five nominations.
After the group went on a hiatus in 2001, TobyMac began his solo career with the album Momentum, and has since released five more successful studio albums.
His most recent 2012 album entitled Eye On It made music history. This was the first Christian album since 1997 to enter the Billboard 200 at number one. There have only been two other Christian albums to accomplish such a feat: Leann Rimes’s You Light Up My Life and Bob Carlisle’s Butterfly Kisses, both released the same year.
Eye On It garnered both a Grammy and Billboard Music Award; it also earned TobyMac an American Music Award for Favorite Christian Artist and KLOVE’s Artist of the Year. So, what made this album shoot straight to the top? It’s obviously not common for Christian artists, so why this one?
Eye On It
Here is the front of the album cover for Eye On It. It literally just has an eye on it. Makes sense since it’s in the name, I guess.
“I set my eyes to the west, walkin’ away from it all
Reachin’ for what lies ahead, I got my eye on it
I see my sweat hit the ground
I put my foot in the block
This is the race of my life
And I can’t wait for this shot”
So, the very first line of this song is I set my eyes to the west, walking away from it all. What exactly is he referring to? As soon as I heard “west,” my stream of consciousness was: California, Hollywood, fame, and money. Is he walking away from Christianity to pursue a life of more fame and riches? What does he have his “eyes” set on? He sings that he “can’t wait for this shot.” I don’t understand what he means by that since he already has six Grammys to his name and, in my book, that means he’s already made it. What else could he be aiming for?
“I got a new passenger to help me navigate the way
So when my heart hits the floor I can recalibrate
I feel the deeper callin’ me, all else is fadin’ in the past
So let me run in the race that I know is built to last”
Who is this “new” passenger? TobyMac has been in the Christian music industry for over two decades, so he’s obviously not a young believer. Why would he have a new passenger to help him along the way? Shouldn’t it have been the same one since the beginning? Not once throughout the entire song does he specifically mention God or Jesus or anything related. The lyrics are very vague and if I did not already know he was a Christian singer, I’d probably think this was another mainstream artist singing about making it into the biz.
Here’s the official music video for Eye On It:
That’s the first image we see as the music starts. It twirls and orbits around about a hundred times. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to represent since the “it” the eye is on in the song is never really made clear.
Then this guy comes on screen doing some weird dance, spinning around almost like the eye in the beginning. He’s also wearing an eye on his shirt. I suppose it’s not really a big deal because it’s part of the song, right?
Oh, and look, TobyMac’s wearing the eye, too! It must be “in” to wear eyes on your shirt while covering your real eyes with sunglasses… in the dark.
And then the song ends after Toby and Britt sing “eye on it” for a little while longer. Not one word or reference about God, Jesus, or anything related to… anything really, and all I remember about it were the eyes. By the way, Britt Nicole is one of those artists that kind of came out of nowhere a few years ago. She’s already being featured on songs with established artists, and was nominated for a Grammy in 2013.
…still has her eye on it. Clever way to hold that heart, too. Very original.
This isn’t really related to Eye On It, but there’s a song TobyMac covers on his Welcome to Diverse City album called Ill-M-I. At first I didn’t know it was a cover, and I was really trying to comprehend the meaning of some of the lyrics. Here is the chorus:
“Ill-M-I, Ill-M-I, Ill-M-I, Ill-M-I and you
Illuminati comin’ through
Ill-M-I, Ill-M-I, Ill-M-I, Ill-M-I and you
Illuminati comin’ through”
It seems like other people were confused about the lyrics as well because Toby explains the meaning of the song on the FAQ section of his website (http://tobymac.com/faq):
The “Ill-M-I” song was originally done by an artist called Soul-Junk. I talked to Glenn Galaxy (the songwriter) a lot before I put that song on the record because I wanted to know exactly what he was writing about. It’s the only song I’ve really ever covered … I just loved the feel and the flow of it so much—it’s just raw hip hop.
What people should know about this lyric is that “ill am I” actually means “broken am I.” The next line says “and you, illuminati coming through” – illuminati is defined as “persons possessing, or claiming to possess, superior enlightenment.”
So when I talked to Glenn, he confirmed that the song was really speaking out against a Pharisee-type attitude, aka “holier than thou.” So the chorus is saying, “broken am I, and you, those who claim to possess superior enlightenment, are coming through,” as in, “YOU’RE spiritually enlightened, YOU have it all together. [sarcasm implied]” But of course, they really don’t, and the song stands to remind us that we’re all broken.
Obviously I’ve been made aware that there’s supposedly a secret society called “the Illuminati” that dates back for years … but I don’t know much about it beyond that. I know I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and that neither the song “Ill M I” nor the album artwork was intended to refer to that usage of the word illuminati. It just has nothing to do with my world or following Jesus or raising my kids and loving my wife.
“It just has nothing to do with my world or following Jesus…” Oh, well that certainly clears it up. Here’s the song. Listen to it, read the lyrics, and analyze it for yourself:
I have only just recently started learning about the occult elite, the illuminati, desensitization, etc. Thanks to Vigilant Citizen, I have finally woken up and begun to realize what I’ve been blind to my entire life. Prior to learning the meaning behind many of the esoteric symbols, I had a strange feeling about the eye on TobyMac’s album. It just didn’t sit right with me. I saw the album cover again a few days ago, and it definitely struck a chord. The more I dug deeper, the more perplexed I became on whether he was really singing about God or something else.
I do not claim to know or wholeheartedly believe that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but the “ride the fence” lyrics that he sings (lyrics that can be interpreted as either Christian or secular), and the usage of those esoteric symbols are both questionable. Is he possibly trying to use what the devil meant for evil and use it for good? Is this man, who has been in the music industry for many years, really that naiive and clueless about the illuminati and inadvertently using those symbols in his work? Or is he just another puppet trying to fool the masses and carry out the elite’s agenda?