The Billboard Top 200 this week is topped by Christian rap-rock act TobyMac, formerly of DC Talk. Though some have pulled close — Christian acts Casting Crowns and David Crowder Band notching No. 2 spots with Come to the Well and Give Us Rest, respectively — TobyMac’s sixth studio set Eye On It is the first Christian album to make the summit since LeAnn Rimes‘ 1997 You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs, and only the third Christian ever to hit No. 1 (Bob Carlisle‘s dadtastic Butterfly Kisses making three). Eye On It moved 69,000 copies this week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, more than 10,000 units more than unsuspecting runner-ups Slaughterhouse sold. 27 percent of those sales came from Christian retailers and bookstores, though TobyMac pulled the same chart-topping trick on iTunes, suggesting that he also holds a broader audience.
The first single off of the album, “Me Without You,” treads its Christianity pretty lightly (“You had me at believe/ Where would I be without you”), and sounds more like Owl City (who is inspired by his Christianity) than, say, the “Amen” happy Meek Mill.
TobyMac is joined on his album by Lecrae, a young Christian rapper from Chicago whose album Gravity debuted this week and is also already performing well in the iTunes charts (currently at #41). Could this be a result of an RNC bump? Has the violent Chicago summer has left listeners looking for answers or comfort? Does Christian music appeal to an audience still interested in purchasing music (as opposed to downloading)? Or are these guys just making universally appealing?