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This double CD set comprised of 23 tracks is at times explicit, other times graphic and in some moments downright uncomfortable to listen to. One more thing that I’d like to add to this initial description of ‘Oak Park : 92105’…it’s one my favorite purchases of 2004. Being that I paid $30.00 for this set, that’s saying a lot.
A few years ago, there were reports in the trade magazines about a Tonex CD release that was going to be marketed pretty heavily on the R&B side of the music industry. In time, those reports eventually morphed into reports of a live double CD recording that would further solidify Tonex’s consumer base on the contemporary Gospel side of the industry.
About this time I read a review of ‘Oak Park : 92105’ online along with a link to a site.
On the site I found official releases from the ‘Nureau Underground’ that have not been and are not currently available anywhere else. 2 of the releases were familiar to me and I decided to purchase them immediately. However, ‘Oak Park : 92105’ was listed on the site at $30.00 and it was going to take a lot more than a music fan’s impulse for me to purchase this item so quickly.
After a few months, I decided to go ahead and purchase it online, playing it within minutes of receiving it in the mail a little more than a week after placing my order. A number of things were noticeable immediately. The music, original; the lyrics, straight-forward; overall thematically consistent with(& could be considered a sequel to) Tonex’s first national release “Pronounced toe-nay”.
As I began to listen more intently, especially to Disc 2, there was more to be discovered. In addition to vocal and music arrangements reminiscent to those of artists like Prince, Musiq(Soulchild), R. Kelly, D’Angelo and others; there was a depth in the lyrical message that caught me completely off-guard.
In ‘Oak Park : 92105,’ Tonex the writer was taking a look back both metaphorically and spiritually to document his journey from his first San Diego home on a street called Santa Margarita to a neighborhood park called Colina to his home church called Truth.
In that journey he writes of a young man that is at first willingly given to the trappings of unhealthy indulgences, then recognizing that there is no longer satisfaction in those indulgences. Upon this realization, is a latent yearning to be delivered of what is now a life of bondage to what was once a voluntary lifestyle of disobedience.
Along with the lamenting of the innocence of childhood, is an increasing desire to answer the drawing of the Spirit of God and escape the path of certain destruction. Upon his surrender to the will of God and embracing a life of ministry, holy matrimony and artistry, the writer is now faced with the struggle of his life to rid himself of the strongholds of his past once and for all. He chronicles the particulars of this struggle in a way that is honest, vulnerable and transparent for all to see.
The end result is an artist who is truly free in Christ to serve in ministry, redeemed in love to serve his wife faithfully and liberated in artistry to share his story as both an encouragement and an admonishment to those who see themselves reflected in his story.
All of this presented through songs with engaging beats and music arrangements, layered with diverse vocal styles and an honesty of an artist who has reconciled his duality by the resurrection power of a risen Lord.
Sonically, ‘Oak Park : 92105’ does not have same production values as Tonex’s most recent work. This is sometimes to be expected in underground, independent recordings. There are other factors on this recording that more than make up for this however, including a number of love songs and some songs which purposely have no deep meaning at all.
‘Oak Park : 92105’ is an essential recording for all Tonex fans. This double CD would also be an especially great choice for those who are looking for music that speaks to issues seldom talked about so frankly and could use some hope on the path to a life of true freedom.
2. Santa Margarita
5. Chollas Parkway
6. U Need the Master
7. Can’t U See?
9. Tippy (feat. Rhonda Patton)
10. My Friend (feat. Chizmatonic)
11. Good 2 Me (feat. Baby Glen McKinney)
14. I Found Love
16. The Blue Mood Ring
18. Out the Game (feat. Gibraan)
19. When My Words R Few
20. Feelings (feat. Karen Carpenter)
21. Easier Said Than Done 2
24. Yes (feat. Montell Jordan)