In 1992, Mad About You and Northern Exposure were popular among TV viewers,
Brendan Fraser made his big screen debut in Encino Man, and exercise fanatics rushed out
to buy the Thighmaster. While groups like House of Pain and Mr. Big were dominating in
mainstream music, one group of hip-hoppers released an album that would forever change the
Christian music industry. Enter in the most critically acclaimed project of DC Talk's career,
Free At Last. Coming back from a year and a half following the fanbase they gained from
1990's Nu Thang, DCT opted for a fresher and more polished album that would literally
outdo their previous efforts. Under the producing helm of Mark Heimmerman, Free At Last
is officially solidified as one of the best selling albums ever in the Christian market.
Songs such as "Luv Is a Verb" (summarizing that we should love one another as God does) and
"That Kinda Girl" (a brief synopsis of Proverbs 31) brought forth beats and lyrics that remain
unmatched by today's hot rap groups. This album produced several radio hits, such as the racial
harmony-invoked "Socially Acceptable" and the group's dance/pop remake of the Doobie Brothers'
classic "Jesus Is Just Alright," with original lyrics composed by TobyMac himself. A personal
favorite of mine is DC Talk's hip-hop take on Bill Withers' "Lean On Me," which includes a rap
break in from Toby that is totally mind-blowing. Free At Last also gave more opportunity
for vocalists Michael and Kevin to take over lead vocal responsibilities as shown in songs like
"Say the Words," "The Hardway," and "Socially Acceptable" while continuing to keep a constant
hip-hop presence throughout each track. Possibly the biggest surprise and boldest move on the
album is the rock-n-roll charged "Time Is," which served as a pre-cursor towards what was held
in the future for DC Talk. "Word 2 The Father" is a near perfect ending to the album where
Toby includes song titles from past DCT songs in the song's final verse. The closing track is
the "Jesus is Just Alright Reprise," which features amazing vocal skills from Michael and Kevin
uttering the words "Jesus, He is my Friend."
Since Free At Last, all three members of DC Talk have sold over 3 million combined
copies of their albums Jesus Freak and Supernatural, each recorded a pair of
albums separate from each other, collaborated with other popular CCM artists, and have co-produced
and/or been responsible for signing some of today's top CCM groups and bands. There is no doubt
that Free At Last has become a permanent staple in the turning point of Christian music
in the 90's. It will be an interesting turn of events to see what these three have planned to do
together in the near future as a group based on their successful solo careers. Free At Last
is an album that will never be forgotten for years to come.
- Review date: 2/14/05, written by Paul Portell