The Come Up: Andy Mineo
On getting into rap and meeting Lecrae:
Andy Mineo: For me, it was me and my best friend Ryan. We used to breakdance. We bought the CD singles because we couldn’t buy the full-length album. We didn’t have enough money. On the CD singles, it’s the instrumentals. When we get done breakdancing on the cardboard. We’d take out markers and start writing on the cardboard while the instrumental would play. We started writing like that and we started creating parodies of songs. We started recording ourselves in little computer microphones. Slowly, but surely over time, I used my birthday money to pick up more pieces of equipment. I learned more about myself until I built a full-blown studio in my basement in high school, which I recorded myself and some other people. Kind of turned it into a business. Started recording everybody in my city, in Syracuse. I became the recording engineer. I got really good at recording and mixing. Went to college for it. Then in college, I was really looking into solo stuff and I did a song called “In My City.” That got a ton of views on YouTube and it made its way to Lecrae.
My boy Alex Medina who is the Art Director now at Reach Records. We were boys. He was kind of putting the bug in Lecrae’s ear. Me and Lecrae connected. I did a chorus for him, a song called “Background.” It’s got like five million views on YouTube. It’s a really big song for him. Did that record with him and we just started dialoging. We realized that we were made of the same fabric. We both had a strong desire to create good music. High emphasis on art. High emphasis on communicating what we are most passionate about, which was serving people and helping people and giving hope to people through the message. That’s when we really started connecting.
On the message in his music:
[Lecrae and I] have a similar message. We want to help people. We want to offer another route. Another perspective. I feel like hip-hop right now is driving the same message of sex, drugs, happiness at whatever cost, F-you I’m the man, stepping on your back where I gotta go. We are trying to come in–and not to bash anybody who talks like that–they are talking about what they know, what they experienced. We want to share what we know and what we experienced. And that’s relating with people. Relating with people in a way so we can see the full version of who we are and how we live out our faith day-to-day. And how that affects every decision that we make.
Sometimes I try to stay away from the title Christian rapper just because I feel like there’s a lot of stigmas that come around to it. Not that I am ashamed to be called a Christian in any sense, but sometimes the stigmas that come along with it can keep people away from the music at large because say they had a bad experience with Christianity up to this point. They could put all those projections on to me, on to my music and not give my music a chance.
You got guys trying to sell miracle healing clothes and you think, “Man, that’s probably all Christians” and it’s not. In our music, the message is: “It’s not pointing the figure at you, saying, get your life right.” More times, we are pointing at ourselves and saying, “Man, even though I messed up, I’m faulty. I’m broken. I’m sinful. God still loves me and he’s coming after me and he’s trying to change me.” And he’s changing me through transforming grace. We found forgiveness and that allows us to forgive other people. That allows us to love our enemies. That allows us to serve the disenfranchised and the disheartened to love and care for the people in this world that don’t get that attention. I think our message is hope. In my music, there’s a lot of honesty about my own brokeness, about my own jacked up-ness. I think people just relate to that. That’s why they hear a song and like “Man, you missed up like that? You blow it like that?” Dang, God really loves us that much? God really forgives that much? It’s a message of hope. It’s a message of grace.
On his influences:
I was into underground, backpack, battle rap hip-hop, which was like Canibus. I was listening to Copywrite. I was listening to J-Zone. I was listening to million artists. Like spitters. All the greats: Nas, Eminem, Biggie, Tupac, all those guys. But, then I had this side of me that loved R&B so I was picking up Usher. Jagged Edge and stuff like that. So I am listening to R&B. And then my brother was listening to heavy metal. So he was putting me on Pantera. I was listening to Rage Against The Machine. I was listening to all that stuff. So then, it kind of all mixed together and I think that’s why I have such an eclectic sound.
If you listen to my album Heroes For Sale, I got “Caught Dreaming” where I am singing on there. Some R&B stuff. If you listen to “Super Human,” it’s like me rapping boom-bap, hip-hop, cocky. I’m rapping hip-hop, New York. Bars all day. And the record “Cocky,” that’s the one I reference. And then on “Wild Things,” it sounds like Pantera. Heavy metal meets 808s and trap snares. So there’s a real eclectic sound I have so that’s why my appeal has grown so quickly cause when you put one of my CDs–Heroes For Sales and Never Land–you are gonna find something you like no matter where you are in your life. My influences are all over the place.