It has been widely believed that the explanation for the group's name is "decent Christian talk"; the lyrics of the songs Time Ta Jam, from their self-titled debut, and When DC Talks, from their second release Nu Thang support this.
You see D's for Decent, and you will agree "Quite explicit yet rated G Because I rhyme hard, and I speak facts And there's no need to curse when I bust a rap And C for Christian, 'cause that's what I am Not a soft sissy, I know how to jam Pack a party for the Father above Intense rhymes tell of ultimate love Talk is for the lyrics, they're full of Spirit" - Time Ta Jam
"D is for decent, I mean what I say But obscene, I don't play that way C is for Christ, to the I-A-N" - When DC Talks
However, the name was initially chosen because McKeehan was from the Washington D.C. area, but ForeFront marketed them as "decent Christian talk" to gain audience in the then-obscure Christian hip hop arena.
The Early Stages (1987-1991)
Beginning Stages (1987-1988)
The band's roots trace back to the late 1980s, when rapper/vocalist Toby McKeehan (tobyMac) started writing Christian hip hop under the moniker Caucatalk. Michael Tait had recorded an independent demo Burden Lifter. While attending Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, McKeehan met Michael Tait, and the two formed DC Talk and the One Way Crew. They released a demo tape titled, Christian Rhymes to a Rhythm. Subsequently, Kevin Max (formerly Kevin Smith) joined the group, and they signed a recording contract with Forefront Records.
After signing the recording contract with ForeFront the group released their self-titled debut album in 1989. They gained a little crossover success when the "Heavenbound" music video received airplay on the BET network.
Their second release, Nu Thang, and a Christmas album titled Yo, Ho, Ho!, were released in 1990. Nu Thang received attention for its hip hop/pop stylings (a la M.C. Hammer, Fresh Prince and Public Enemy, whom they frequently sampled on Free at Last). By 1991, the trio was opening for Michael W. Smith and was awarded a Dove Award. The release of their Rap, Rock, n' Soul video garnered a wider audience for the group.
Beginning Success (1992-1994)
Free at Last
In 1992, the group released Free at Last, which eventually went platinum. The album produced six Christian radio hits and it stayed at the #1 spot on the Billboard CCM sales charts for 34 weeks. Free at Last also garnered the group's first Grammy award for Best Rock Gospel Album in 1994. The success of the album is attributed to the group moving away from a strictly rap sound to a blend of hip hop and pop. The album also prompted the filming of a movie with the same name.
Free at Last The Movie
During the Free at Last tour the band was followed around by camera crews filming the band for a documentary. This documentary was going to be released as a movie and was heavily promoted on Lightmusic TV, a Christian music video show. After months of teaser trailers, they abruptly stopped being shown. A trailer included in the enhanced CD single of Jesus Freak advertised a September 17th 1995 theatrical release date for the film. The film was never released to theaters, as it could not find a distributor. Eight years after the film was to be released theatrically, the movie was finally released on DVD in unfinished form. Some of the footage used for the movie was shown in the video for The Hardway.
Mainstream Success (1995-1999)
Jesus Freak, was released in 1995, and it achieved the highest first week sales of any Christian release in history. This album had a more pop-rock oriented sound, with little hip hop to be found. The music was much more similar to a fusion of the musical stylings of Nirvana, and U2, than M.C. Hammer.  The album also introduced the group to the secular audience; Between You and Me reached #12 on Casey's Top 40 while the video received regular airtime on MTV and VH1. With the release of the album, the group launched a massive tour titled the Freakshow Tour, which took the trio across the United States, Canada and Europe. The group released a live video titled Live in Concert: Welcome To The Freak Show which contained footage from the Freakshow tour. An audio CD of the soundtrack from the video was also released under the same title. Jesus Freak also marked a milestone in the group's career as they signed a deal with Virgin Records in 1996 to distribute their music to the mainstream market.
Supernatural, released in 1998, was their last all-new studio album. Upon release, the album overtook Jesus Freak to set a new record for the highest first week sales for a Christian release. It debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 charts, an unprecedented event for a Christian rock album. Supernatural abandoned the hip hop/rap style found on the group's earlier releases to settle for the pop/rock sound. The group has stated in The Supernatural Experience video that this album was different; it was a collaborative effort of all three members. The songs "Consume Me" and "My Friend (So Long)" received their fair share of radio play on Modern Rock, Contemporary Christian, and Alternative outlets. The group then embarked an a 60-city tour across the United States titled, The Supernatural Experience. Footage from the tour was combined with interviews and released as The Supernatural Experience video.
In 2000, dc Talk hosted a show titled "Intermission: A Decade of dc Talk". A compilation album titled Intermission was then released. Intermission... contains many of their previously recorded songs either remixed or in their original formats. Two new songs, Chance and Sugar Coat It, were recorded for the album.
In 2000, the members announced that they would be taking a break from the group to pursue solo efforts. They released Solo: Special Edition EP, which contained two new songs from each member's solo ventures and a live version of "40" performed by the group.
Post Hiatus (2002-20??)
In September 2002, dc Talk reunited to record and release a single about the September 11, 2001 attacks, entitled "Let's Roll." The group also released a 10th Anniversary Edition of their 1992 album Free At Last, which includes all of the songs from the original album (including interludes), a 2002 remake of their hit song The Hardway, as well as a commentary at the end. The Special Edition releases also include the DVD of their Free At Last documentary, as well as the music videos for The Hardway and Jesus Is Just Alright.
In 2004, dc Talk reunited for a remix of tobyMac's "Atmosphere" as the final track of the Welcome to Diverse City album.
In September 2005, dc Talk briefly reunited during a concert on September 12, in Redmond, Washington state. They played the songs, "In the Light" and "Jesus Freak."
On January 12, 2006, Gotee Records (founded by dc Talk's tobyMac) announced the production of a 10th anniversary Jesus Freak tribute album entitled, FREAKED!. This album, which was released in June 2006, features songs from such Gotee Records artists as Relient K, Sarah Kelly, House of Heroes, Verbs, Liquid, and Family Force 5. It also features a reunion of the Gotee Brothers.
In August 2006, an album titled The Early Years was released. It is a compilation of songs from their first three albums.
On December 26, 2006, a 10th Anniversary Special Edition Jesus Freak album was released.
In 2007, dc Talk covered the Prince penned song "The Cross", featuring on Kevin's album, "The Blood"
There were rumors of a possible reunion tour, though Kevin Max denied the rumors. He wrote on his official website's message board, "DC Talk is something of the past. In order for DC Talk to be anything of the future, it will be up to each individual member to come together to create something that is lasting and substantial. There is an audience out there interested in seeing DC Talk back together as a group and as an entertaining and creative force, but I feel that the spirit of the thing is dead. I appreciated the time that we had together those many years, and I thank God many times over for allowing me to be a part of something that was so far reaching and helped so many people, but to be honest, just doing a show to do a show is not interesting to me. It must be thought out, creative and passionate."
In a recent concert, Michael Tait denied rumours of dc Talk's coming back, saying that he was focusing now on his band, Tait.
Despite the lack of a recent group CD, Christian radio stations continue to play the band's music heavily. As the three friends find success separately, millions of fans across the world hopefully wait for dc Talk to reunite. In a recent interview, Tobymac talked about a possible reunion tour "at some point".
It has been mentioned, as of 2007, by certain members of DC Talk management that there may be some type of reunion (whether album, tour, or both, is not certain) in the fall of 2008. This could be an anniversary reunion, as the first album was released in 1989.
At the close of the Life Light Music Festival in Sioux Falls, SD, on Sunday, September 2, 2007, Michael Tait and Tobymac performed "Jesus Freak" and "In The Light" together with Mr. McKeehan's band The Diverse City Band. Earlier that night, Tait was asked "When's that reunion gonna happen?" by a fan. Tait replied with, "I don't know man. You tell me!" When that fan offered, "Here, next year," Tait came back with, "We'll see. Next year should be even better!"
* They collaborated with Carman on his Addicted to Jesus lullaby.
* They collaborated with CCM artist, Steven Curtis Chapman on his 1992 album, The Great Adventure with the track Got 2 b tru. The track begins with a bit of rap from the song, "Nu Thang", and continues with Steven Curtis Chapman starting to rap. The rest of the band comes in later, with Toby rapping the second verse.
* dc Talk sang a cover version of the Larry Norman original, "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" on the album One Way: The Songs Of Larry Norman which was released by Forefront in 1995.
* They participated in Rocketown Records's Exodus album in 1998 with the song, "My Will".
* They contributed in 1998 to The Prince of Egypt Inspirational Soundtrack with the song, "My Deliverer," and to The Prince of Egypt Soundtrack on the song "Humanity," which featured a number of well-known musicians.
* They also sang a Rich Mullins song on Michael W. Smith's "Tribute to Rich Mullins" also featuring other Christian artists such as Jars of Clay and Amy Grant.
* They sang back-up vocals on Michael McDonald's cover of the Marvin Gaye Classic Ain't That Peculiar
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Friday, September 19, 2008