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Pronounced toe-nay

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2000 1 Jan
Pronounced toe-nay

Lest there be confusion on how to pronounce the man's name, look no further than his album title. This is actually Tonéx's third album and it originally came out in 1997. However, distribution was limited — this San Diego native was selling Pronounced toe-nay out of the back of his car. But it's become such an underground favorite, and earned the acclaim of R&B artists Missy Elliot and Timbaland, Verity has decided to re-release it for everyone to discover. You'll be glad they did, because this is a fascinating album, revealing one of the most talented Christian R&B artists.

Buckle up before listening to Tonéx, because it's a wild ride. The album is an interesting mix of R&B, pop, gospel and funk; in other words, imagine a mix of Prince, D'Angelo, Michael Jackson, George Michael, and Kirk Franklin. The album is divided into genre sections, starting with hip-hop/rap, then going into some retro funk. The weirdest part is surely Section 3, entitled The Future, but he follows that with sections for jazz, mellow groove, and soul/gospel. I don't think he could be anymore diverse unless he dabbled with country and heavy metal. Interestingly, he does them all exceptionally well.

A true rarity, here is a Christian R&B artist with a three-year-old album that sounds as fresh and original as anything else released today. I rank it on the same level as Tony Rich and Kirk Franklin. Apparently there was some controversy with Pronounced toe-nay because it merged old school gospel with new school gospel. There is no doubt about Tonéx's authenticity (he comes from a Christian musical family and both his parents are ministers), but his music is certainly not conventional. Hopefully now in this popular era of Kirk Franklin, people will be a little more receptive to the obvious skills of Tonéx, because I for one would like to hear more from this artist if it's anywhere near as good as Pronounced toe-nay.