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After a decade of hard knocks, the world is finally turning Toby Keith's way - so there!

Story by Larry Holden

Toby Keith's got a little extra swagger in his step nowadays. Cocky? Sure. Vindicated? You bet! Satisfied? Oh, yeah. After all, it may have taken 15 years, but the world has finally caught up to him - just the way he planned.

"I can sit up on a fence post and crow about it now," declares Toby. "When you do things your way and don't compromise - in the face of a lot of folks trying to get you to compromise - it's like winning the war. I feel like I didn't alter my course and I outlasted the storm. That gives you a real good feeling about yourself when you do that.

"The country music industry and a lot more fans caught up to what I've been doing all along," he adds, "because I haven't changed."

What Toby's been doing is carving out his own unique place in an industry packed with sound-alikes, look-alikes and do-alikes. And he's used in-your-face attitude tunes to make his mark. It started with "Getcha Some," picked up steam with "How Do You Like Me Now?!" (tabulated as Billboard's most played song of 2000), continued pell-mell with the controversial "I'm Just Talkin' About Tonight" and soared into orbit with "I Wanna Talk About Me," which spent a whopping five weeks at No. 1!

"You're always in search of your defining place in the industry," notes Toby. "I've landed in my niche. I stuck to my guns, and that crack I was seeking is now the Grand Canyon."

Having 'tude in his music is nothing new to Toby.

Read the entire story of Toby's rise in the current Newsstand Issue!