DVD: Tonex: Out The Box: The Movie
By now, you know that anything coming from Tonéx is big, high quality, and worth talking about for a long time to come. The Gospel world is still (yes, still) feeling the impact and buzz about his nationwide debut, Pronounced Toe-Nay. Fast forward to 2004, and Out The Box (see CD review) has cemented the Nureau Ink contingency as Gospel's and, arguably, music's most progressive faction.
So the buzz about Tonéx's first nationally released DVD has been at a fever pitch. Bottom line, this ranks with the most amazing visual experiences ever recorded in music history.
Filmed in 24mm high definition, Out The Box: The Movie is treated as such and is far more than just a mere concert. For one, there are no extras on the DVD, which might seem like a disappointment on the outset. But that's simply because the extras are all fused within the cinematic presentation.
This two-hour presentation begins with footage from the launch of the 2002 Evolution Tour, and takes you through preparation for the Out The Box show, with clips from performances from around the world. This footage is so captivating that you almost forget about the ensuing concert. But concert time has come and Yolanda Adams takes the stage for her intro of Tonéx.
If you listened to the audio project, your imagination probably runs wild with the possibilities of what could visually be happening through the Out The Box CD intro. Well, those questions are answered and then some as you watch the visual offering. A nine-foot music box sits on the stage as Danny "Doe-nay" Rivera cranks the music box with Tonéx coming out of the top much like a jack-in-the-box.
What makes this DVD so amazing is the breathtaking visual stimulation that Tonéx provides. As creative director of this effort, he uses plenty of special effects and graphics that have not been seen in Gospel presentations. Tonéx treats this movie like more of a concept video than a live concert video. "The Trust Theory" and "Alive" really demonstrate this as the artist flips from the live concert setting to rehearsals to concept video back to live concert setting as though this was MTV.
In reality, in many aspects the DVD experience is akin to a cross-breeding of the MTV Music Awards and the old VH1 special Pop-Up video, as the Nureau Ink leader adds interesting commentary on varying events. He points out an actual dance blooper along with varying audience members. In fact, his commentary on Desmond Pringle is simply priceless.
"Alive 2" literally turns into a heavy metal presentation. With serious effects, Tonéx turns the presentation into something reminiscent of a Van Halen video (which is probably the desired effect). The song order on the DVD is similar to that on the live section of the CD. As mentioned, it's the matching of the visual to the audio that takes your breath away.
Paul Michael Reed, KJ Gonzales, Samath Orm and Erik Sarapudon make up the dancers who would clearly make King David and Debbie Allen proud with their skill level. Reed, along with Tonéx, served as choreographers for the evening and their dancing is amazing. Check out what they do with "Work On Me" as they take the choir round (made famous by Ricky Dillard & New G) and implement it in their dance presentation. Simply phenomenal!!
"Games" doesn't disappoint as Tonéx adds a Family Feud setting to the presentation, complete with survey questions and everything. It's creative genius at its finest (read interview with Tonéx.)
Several intangibles on this DVD include the preaching excerpts. "Fundamentals" makes the cut while a new excerpt titled "Pole Position" makes its way onto the DVD. Not originally found on the CD, this sermonic excerpt has Tonéx preaching about the game Monopoly and how God is using those who have looked over us to pay us back. Powerful. All of the sermons were filmed at Tonéx's home church, Truth Apostolic Community Church.
There are also clips included of church service at Truth. Perhaps one of the more touching moments of the DVD is footage filmed of Tonéx's late father, Elder A.C. Williams. The footage, shot in London, shows the more comical side of Pastor Williams. Equally as moving is the brief footage of Tonéx dancing before the Lord at the funeral of his father. This particular sequence comes during "Freestyle-Church Floor", which is as mind-blowing as any part of this project. It comes in with Tonex on the organ taking everybody to church.
For those who didn't know the musician that is Tonéx, he holds nothing back in this section as he rips it on the organ. He then hops over to piano and tears that up. After that, he moves over to the Clavinova and puts a hurting on it. Just when you think he can do no more, he moves over to the drums and laces the wood and skins like nobody's business. It's mind blowing and will make every musician's jaw drop.
The "Throwback" section features several throwbacks to the Pronounced Toe-nay and O2 projects. He also includes a wonderful pictorial montage of he and his wife Yvette (aka Ms. Tonéx).
Watching Tonex and Kirk Franklin vibe on "God Has Not 4Got" is awesome as it's easy to tell that they recognize history being made with their collaboration. "To Know You Lord", filmed at the Gospel Heritage Foundation's Praise and Worship Conference in Atlanta, is included in this set as well.
Sheila E. joins Tonéx for "Todos Juntos" and shows that Sheila is still at the top of her game. Few percussionists can literally put their foot in what they do the way she does. Be sure to watch for Tonéx's wardrobe change that gives him an authentic look for this song, as he opens the top button of his button-down shirt, reminiscent of Ricky Martin or Julio Iglesias, Jr.
The "Prophetic Worship" revisits the concept video idea as Tonéx is on the beach with "Your Word". There's also a powerful serenity found in the concept for "The Spirit Realm", as Tonéx meditates at a waterfall. Unlike the album, not as much time is spent in this section, which doesn't diminish its power or impact.
"Make Me Over" delivers powerfully visually as it does audibly. No special effects here, the sincerity of the message is all.
The "Graffiti/Hip-Hop" section features a special interview with Kirk Franklin. Franklin talks about how the two met and his initial intent to sign Tonéx to his own label. The two then set it off with "Since Jesus Came", complete with a dance-off and everything. It's an old-school battle between friends that is worth the price of admission. It's the bonafide hotness, without question.
For as much as we tried to capture the essence of the movie in this review, it really takes viewing this thing over and over again to get everything available from it. There's never been a presentation like it. As he did audibly, Tonéx has taken video presentation to the next level and way Out The Box.
Get ready to not just go Out The Box, but to destroy the box!!
Check out these video stills from DVD below.
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DVD release date: November 23, 2004
review by Gerard Bonner —
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