Tonex: "Temet Nosce" and "Unspoken" Reviews



TON3X
"Temet Nosce: The Nag Champion Mixtape"
(Nureau iNK, LLC)
and
"Unspoken"
(Battery Records/Sony)
"Temet Nosce" available exclusively at store.theofficialtonex.com
"Unspoken" available at
store.theofficialtonex.com and all music retailers and digital music outlets
http://www.myspace.com/theofficialtonex






TON3X is, for all intents and purposes, a prolific artist. While some reports assume that he's had a 5-year hiatus, nothing could be farther from the truth. Since 2004, TON3X has released around 7 projects (either albums or "mixtapes") independently, along with his budding acting career, starring in the plays "Dreamgirls" and "Princess & The Black Eyed Pea'", both of them produced in San Diego. These latest 2 projects, the mixtape being the precursor to the album, show not only just how prolific he can be, but the vast scope and firm grasp of musicianship he has. In the interest of time and blog space, the play-by-play rundown will be limited to short sentences in this review. And so we begin....


Beginning with "Temet Nosce", which is only available via his website 's store , this is not only a continuation of his previous mixtape, "Bapost.o.g.i.c", but it is also an expansionary witnessing tool that was specifically directed to the streets. For those who don't know, "Temet Nosce" translates loosely from Latin as "Know Thyself", famously featured in the movie "The Matrix ". Packaged with Nag Champa incense (hence the subtitle, also a reference to a track on Common's "Like Water For Chocolate"), as soon as I opened the envelope, the scent of the incense permeated through the packaging. Nice. With my nag champa incense burning, I began the journey.

"Nag Champion" is a really cool intro where you can see TON3X being not only comfortable with where he is musically, but also with where he is in his relationship with God.The intro is a testament to his overcoming the obstacles that came his way, and becoming a "nag champion".

"I Believed U" is a scathing anonymous track to someone in particular who betrayed TON3X. I'm REALLY diggin' the chopped up sample on this one... (yo, Bizzy--holla at me for the info...LOL!).

"Jennifer" is a hauntingly beautiful track, seemingly improvised, dedicated to Jennifer Hudson. I simply loved this when I first heard it.

"Screwy Wabbit" REALLY through me for a loop when I first heard it. When I realized it was presented in Screwtape style (RIP DJ Screw), I understood. Great journey through "OakPark", though the "screwed up style isn't something I can really say I'm into, maybe because I'm not from Houston.

"Incense & Candles" is hot, with its guitar samples and harmonies, it's cascading synth line in the background. With T singing about incense, candles, chamomille tea, and other relaxing elements, it's a really relaxing track. One of the standouts.

"Chemystery" is another lava-lamp R&B joint dealing with the age-old theory that "opposites attract", with T singing all over the drum pattern, and the harmonies layering beautifully, especially on the breakdown.

"Steel & Velvet" is a song that women--and men, for that matter--need to hear, about grown man's business. "With lyrics like "smooth like LL, hard like Capone", it speaks of the duality of being a man. Great track.

 "Changes" would not have been out of place during the DNC (Democratic National Convention) last year. A song about the inevitable ebb and flow of life, society, and spiritual evolution, this song is absolutely beautiful with TON3X flowing over a piano and drums. Beautiful vamping toward the end.

"YHWH" is a sprawling, 10-minute opus previously available on iTunes. Utilizing a sample of the Hebrew folk song "Hava Nagilah", this song is a joyous celebration of God that was released initially on the Jewish Holiday Yom Kippur in 2008 on TON3X's Myspace . It then became a hit, triggering an iTunes release, and then its inclusion on this mixtape. T's vocal prowess is showcased on this track, with him showing off his reported 6-octave vocal range. Great track.

The final track, "Until 2morrow", is a beautiful spoken-word/rap by Nureau iNK delegate Omega. Over a simple drum loop, piano, and T's vamped ad-libbing, Omega speaks words of encouragement to the listener, and possibly TON3X himself, as the mixtape draws to a close.


All in all, this mixtape is great, jumping from Erykah-Baduish soul, hip-hop, and world music, and is a must-add for fans (and fams ) as well as people who just appreciate good music.


And now - "Unspoken".



This album, in general, is going to be a huge hit in any genre. Specifically marketed as both R&B/Soul and Gospel, this album is essentially an incognito Gospel album, so much so that people are confusing some of the songs as mere R&B tracks. While maybe 2 or 3 songs are straight R&B, the rest of the songs are there as a transition. I believe that the label TON3X is affiliated with now, Battery/SONY, has a better understanding of how to market TON3X's music, as it really has no genre in and of itself.

The first song, "FIYAH", has got to be one of the most attention-getting opening tracks on an album I've ever heard. With rapper Vango opening the song, a thumpin' hip-hop club track, and TON3X's vocals, this one is sure to be a club-banger. Great opening for the album.

"Bring It" is a great club track, sounding like it could be out of the "Bring It On" soundtrack. A great dance battle jam. Love It.


"Joy" is one of those tracks that I'm glad finally got its proper label release. Originally touted as a single for another upcoming album, "Stereotype:Steel & Velvet", T snatched this one back and put it on this album. Uptempo, great vocals, this song could either be to a significant other or to the Creator. This is a track that could be taken either way, which is not to be said of the next track...


"Glorex" is an unbelievable track. A Gospel song to the core, this is what it would song like if D'Angelo, Maxwell, or Prince would do a Gospel song. TON3X's falsetto floats beautifully over this track, as do the background vocals. This is one that has my player on repeat. A must-listen.


"Blend", one of the singles off this album, is a favorite of a few of my family members and friends. An alternative/pop song that is masterfully done with percussion and an electric piano, it speaks of individuality and how lack thereof can actually hinder your trying to fit in. The underlying message is that "you are unique in God's eyes". Nice chugging drum line going on through the track. Stand-out.... but-- you need to listen to the remixes!



"Cool With U" is one of my wife's favorites, as well as mine. Interestingly enough, this is miscategorized as an R&B song, while it can be, but if one really listens, TON3X is not speaking of making his lady happy, but he's speaking specifically about making time with God and making Him happy and "making his life pleasing before Him". Again, this is one of those times where it can be perceived either way. Beautiful bridge on this one. Love the song.


"Unspoken", the title track, is a beautiful song dealing with those of us who have a need of prayer that is private, perhaps because it is too painful, but most likely due to fear of judgment from "church folk". Those of us who deal with those issues (but not you, right?) should listen to this song on a CONSTANT LOOP. I find myself listening to this over and over at times and it's very apparent why this song became the title of the album, for those who doubted. Standout.


"Again" concludes the somewhat trilogy of slow Gospel songs on this project. They seem to meld together and was obviously deliberately sequenced in that order. This particular song speaks to me, and will to you, as it speaks of being faithful in the midst of adversity because "if He did it before, He's gonna do it again". Amen. Another standout. Matter of fact, the past 3 songs should be on a loop. Real talk.


"Love Me 4 Me" continues on with the R&B aspect of the album. This song is just amazing. The vocal arrangement, the drum pattern, the lyrics. It's a great R&B song all the way around, destined to be a single, I hope.


"When I Call" is a club banger. I love the fact that this is so different from the album, and yet it works well. This is one of my favorite TON3X tracks in general, because it's so different. When he hits those high notes during the end portion, watch out. Amazing.


"Sneeze", while sounding like a regular Pop/R&B joint with Gospel undertones, it is very deep as found on TON3X's explanation of the song on his myspace. I really like this because you have to listen to it as well as groove to it. I really dig this one.


"Wired" can be best described as Michael Jackson does Gospel, at least from its vocal delivery. Nice club banger with a message. I especially like the harmonies during the chorus.


"Face Down", the final track, is a straight-up thumper. THe drum track slaps you in the face, the guitar punctuates the drum track, the vocal delivery, all of it. Amazing. The song deals with being prostrate in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Real talk, I have a friend who's a Jehovah's Witness bangin' this one. This is a great closing of the album and another one destined to be a single.


All in all, "Unspoken" is a welcome and awaited "return" by TON3X to the mainstream. I would be surprised if this does not garner any awards due to the sheer magnitude of creativity on this album. It's a great album from start to finish, in any genre.



And so, that is my review of the past 2 projects on TON3X's arsenal which were released within weeks of each other. If these are any indication of the future, we as listeners have a LOT to look forward to from TON3X. I, for one, can't wait for what's next.














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