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Oak Park: 92105

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Album Review

For no reason, some stars at the peak of their careers seemed programmed to self-destruct. The rock world is filled with such senseless acts; in the comedy world, Dave Chappelle is a shining example, an immensely popular comedian who inexplicably threw his career away. And then there's Tonex, the ferociously talented singer-producer who was the doyen of the gospel world. After releasing two magnificent studio albums and a breathtaking live set, in 2006 Tonex bizarrely burned all his bridges, stormed out on his label Verity, and scathingly condemned the entire scene and its top artists. The following year, he was back with Oak Park 921'06, released on his own Nureau Ink label. The sprawling epic explored both Tonex's own roots as well as societal problems across two CDs. Now the Syntax label has compressed the set down to a more manageable single disc, comprising 16 of the most uplifting tracks. Inevitably, shearing the set of many of the more thought-provoking and soul-searching numbers somewhat emasculates the album. However, it also clarifies and accentuates Tonex's powerful, spiritual messages, while also capturing the eclectic sound of the set. Opening the album with the lavish hip-hop pop of "Now" was a particularly astute choice. Its gorgeous vocal sample "What do I do now, could we start again," hints at an apology and an attempt to rebuild those burnt bridges. It also offers a bit of an explanation for how the artist's life went so wrong. His spiritual crisis is better described on "Out the Game," a song haunted by mournful winds and evocative Spanish guitars. The intimate, introspective "Anthony" delves deeper, as Tonex looks into the mirror not in an act of self-affirmation, but one of contrition. He brutally tears down his own pretentious ego, leading to true repentance and the emergence of a better person, "now twice humble, admit it when I stumble."

As any believer will tell you, the road to righteousness is a rough one, which Tonex confirms on "Fail U," a blistering Christian rocker that takes inspiration from Robert Plant, Queen, and the Lord of course. But by stumbling, Tonex has finally learned it's not about him, but the Lord, as he eloquently explains on "You." Not all are ready to see the light though, and so on "holy-NESS" Tonex stops preaching to the choir, and goes toe to toe with the club scene, hitting them hard with hip-hop beats, powerful female gospel vocals, and a sermon laced with humor. Skipping deftly across musical genres — blues, gospel, hip-hop, and R&B, the singer preaches God's love, the many gifts He will bestow on the faithful, and the guidance He can provide. "Yes" is Tonex's epistle, a rich R&B love letter to the Lord himself. The album ends on a high note with the upbeat "HUP!," an irresistible gospel club raver. Seen through the prism of this set, Tonex appears to have made peace with himself, whether the gospel scene will grant him forgiveness is still to be seen. Syntax certainly hopes so, offering up a glorious set of love and spiritual rebirth.

Customer Reviews

I see why it's explict

My sister loves Tonex and this is my first time really listening to an entire album of his and I think it's great. It touches on issues Christians may not want to hear, but I believe Tonex is bringing it out so it can be dealt with. There are words in this album which you wouldn't hear in church service, but that's doesn't mean it's vulgar. It's REAL... and I think that's wonderful. The music is brillant, I think everyone can relate and enjoy.


I must say that I am concerned about Tonex. This music is a sharp contrast to the brilliance once seen in this "artist" It is obvious, that life has brought about some not so good changes, and that this CD is a response to those changes. I purchased this with excitement and anticipation of hearing his creativity, but was let down severely. I hope and pray that someone who is close to him will help him at this low point in his life... His issues are not too much for God to handle. As a man, I am faced with my own peculiar challenges, espcecially as it relates to being a leader of a progressive church in a progressive denomination. I understand whole heartedly, and feel his pain and desperation. Those in leadership often times must suffer persecution and loneliness in order to help others, its called, personal sacrafice. Blessings

The Truth...the INK Spilleth

“Oak Park”, is to me, what “Thriller” or the “white album” was for their generation. Oak Park is about life, and all that comes with it—love, loss, happiness, pain, and redemption. It never loses it’s hope or fails to give an answer to whatever situation. The lyrics rise to the quality of the production. Gone are the overused churchisms. They are replaced with thought provoking lyrics and truth. This is what music is supposed to be. Don't be satisfied with just a couple tracks. To get the picture, you have to see all the colors. So buy the entire album. Please Believe, if you download this your satisfaction is guranteed! Nishki0321


Born: May 16, 1975

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Singer/songwriter, producer, and youth leader Tonex was unafraid to rock the waves in contemporary Christian music, for his musical antics have been compared to the likes of Prince. His brash combination of gospel and R&B was first introduced on the Verity Records compilation WOW Gospel 2000. In September 2000, Tonex made his solo debut...
Full Bio
Oak Park: 92105, Tonéx
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Customer Ratings


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