Transparency is a double-edged sword, and I’ve seen the artist formerly known as ‘C-LITE’ get cut by both sides of it based on the public perceptions of his willful actions….warranted or otherwise.

It’s nearing the end of January 2014 as I write this, and it’s safe to say that ANDY MINEO may be the most popular pro-Christ hip-hop artist not named LECRAE.  Now, please understand what I just wrote before you flip out and accuse me of ‘116’ fanaticism.  I didn’t say Mineo was the BEST or DOPEST ARTIST after Lecrae, I said ‘most popular,’ and when you check out his numbers on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or the Billboard Top 200 album charts, that distinction is hard to argue.  Popularity aside, I do think Andy Mineo is a great artist in his own right.  Have I loved everything he’s dropped thus far?  Nah.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of “AYO,” until I heard the album version of that single, but the dude is a pretty dope MC who can handle both underground and mainstream tracks.  He’s an excellent live performer, his Heroes For Sale album was one of the best releases of 2013, and if his single “Uno Uno Seis” doesn’t make you move in any way, shape, or form, you may have no pulse, or you might be an angry or staunch ‘backpacker!’  Hey, I grew up on and still do ‘backpack’ hip-hop too, so I get it, kinda.  I just practice and embrace other stuff too, but I’ll address that later.  Give me until March or so.  Remember that last statement.

Back to Andy though.  Another appealing thing about him and his music is that I can relate to his artistic choices as an artist myself.  Andy raps and sings in his music.  So do I.  Andy reps New York hard in his music and his videos.  So do I. Andy’s sound can range from boom bap to alternative and so does mine.  And finally, as it’s become my signature component in songs like “Intervention/Reinvention,” “R.A.G.E,” “Cross That Line,” “Subliminals,” and other songs from my catalog, Andy has also dabbled in the metalcore ‘screamo’ style vocals with a song called “Wild Things” off his 2013 studio LP.  So yeah, for obvious and not so obvious reasons, I’m a fan of his work for the most part, but even that stuff isn’t the most intriguing or appealing thing to me about Mineo as a Christian artist.

The thing that I really appreciate Andy Mineo as a Christian artist is his transparency.  If I’m to be honest, watching interviews with some Christian hip hop artists in the past wasn’t particularly insightful as far as who they really were as people.  In fact, they often felt very robotic, scripted, and devoid of any personality whatsoever.  I heard a lot of scripture quotes, a lot of John Piper, a lot of reformed theology, a lot of ‘Christianese,’ a lot of similar testimonies, but not too much of the who that ‘minister of the gospel’ was as a person.  It was like every ‘i’ was dotted and every ‘t’ was crossed in terms of their appearance, to the point that some Christian hip hop artists came off almost inhuman.  Mineo, however, is extremely transparent and he uses any social medium possible to share himself and all the key facets of his life with anyone.

Again, I can relate to that too.  Just like this site is a place to share my musical ideas, creative process, music videos, spiritual and artistic inspirations, social observations, struggles, disappointments, convictions, and lessons learned, SATURDAY MORNING CAR-TUNEZ has been a web series that exposed Mineo’s near tireless work ethic and goofy side.  Instagram has pictures of Mineo repping the GREEN BAY PACKERS, being SHIRTLESS on a Beach, his rapidly growing fanbase that include a lot of beautiful women and frat-boy styled pranks, plus, Mineo will speak his mind about whatever on Twitter and Facebook.  Truthfully, to see a Christian MC be a ‘regular guy’ who happens to be gifted and loves JESUS is refreshing in a genre where image (as in, look super sanctified, non threatening, and purer than the whitest snow) is almost everything.  However, showing your humanity comes with a price, and I think Andy’s seeing this more than ever.

Transparency includes exposing your mistakes, and just as we’ve seen his leaps into greater adoration, we’ve also seen Mineo’s missteps that have been harped on by fans and non-fans alike.  Some hip hop purists in the CHH community have criticized Mineo’s musical direction for becoming more radio friendly and less ‘rappity-rap’ than his sound from his SIN IS WACK mixtape era, and he’s been called the Christian ‘Drake’ (which I think is a lazy comparison) for better or worse.  Those weren’t his missteps, but his real mistakes added fuel to the fire of contempt that some had based on his sound switch, appeal to women, and image.  The first two I saw were minor in retrospect.  Andy took to his tumblr account to post an apology about a boxing match where he apparently made way too much fun online of the fighter who lost.  Then there was Andy making a statement on Twitter some time back about how the quality of ‘cover artwork’ for a single or album is a strong indicator of an artist being dope or not, a statement that honestly upset many of his fellow emcees who lacked the Reach Records budget, connects, and quality control team that he has.

To be fair, many artists, including myself, have said things in that vein, but when you’re that popular, the divide between those who love and those who critique you widens.  Then came Mineo’s biggest mistake to date, on the world famous MTV network, during an interview with hip hop journalist Rob Markman for “RAP FIX LIVE,”  Andy made a statement that pretty much labeled most of Christian hip hop as ‘corny.’  To say that Mineo’s statement upset the Christian hip hop community is to say that Michael Jordan was a ‘good’ basketball player.  The CHH scene became livid, to the point that Andy took to tumblr again to apologize.  When all eyes are on you, especially eyes that helped make who you currently are, you gotta watch what you say and where you say it, but as a human being, which WE ALL ARE, that’s not always easy.

So yeah, dude’s made some mistakes in being outspoken, said things that many would kinda consider ‘corny,’ but it was all done while he was being himself and not a robot who says all the right things all the time.  Truth is, a lot of us have done what Mineo’s done plenty of times in our own ways, and we just have not encountered his level of backlash for it because we’re not as famous as he is.  Therefore, our grace should accompany our critiques in the future, as well as our understanding that if we desire someone’s transparency, we should accept and expect the great and not so great things they do equally.  We should be praying for someone who allows us to see the intimate details of his life from his relationship with his parents to his triumphant and stellar ‘RAP FIX’ LIVE cypher performance, not just dissecting him.  Truth be told, Andy’s more like a lot of us than we care to admit, but sometimes, any mirror of ourselves is hard to look at, even if that ‘mirror’ is through another person.

From his album title to his episode of being reprimanded by his tour manager in the documentary for that same album, Andy’s been telling us, “Hey, I’m not perfect.  Far from it.  I need Jesus too.  I need to grow in him.”  Let’s watch and pray for that growth and take a hard look at our own shortcomings while being real about who we truly are in the public eye.

God bless Andy and go get NEVER LAND on iTunes by clicking HERE!

That’s it for my first blog of 2014.  Happy New Year everyone.