“I am a catalyst for change, a sneaker connoisseur, and a lover of all things dope.”
Columbus, Ohio artist Armond WakeUp grew up surrounded by hip-hop culture. One of the earliest influencers connecting him to music was his older cousin, who was a big fan of artists such as KRS-One, LL Cool J, and groups like Brand Nubian. “It affects how I see the world, how I relate to people, and it has been the catalyst for a lot of long withstanding relationships that I’ve had.”
He rapped for the first time at age seven with his older sister at their grandmother’s house. Though he enjoyed rapping for a number of years, he later transitioned to a focus on basketball before realizing in high school that he would be unable to go pro. Since then, it has been all hip-hop. “I’ve been rapping seriously since I was about fifteen or sixteen.”
Hip-hop culture not only influenced Armond WakeUp’s musical tastes and skills, but it also gave him a passion for fashion. “My father was very much into [the] hip-hop style of fashion. He was [often] wearing Jordan’s and sweats.”
Armond WakeUp has an Instagram account (@model.ministry), and a portion of his website devoted to fashion, creating Lookbooks regularly.
“I feel like fashion communicates so many things that words can’t. It communicates confidence, uniqueness, and creativity, and I think all of those things are important as an artist.”
On November 12th, he released the fifth installment, Snooze Button V, of a series of projects spanning over ten years. “I come from the era where you had to have ten or fifteen different rhymes memorized because you never knew if somebody was trying to battle you, [or] if a cypher was going to jump off.” Many of his Snooze Button projects have come in between more elaborate releases, and this is no different. “This is really just a launching pad to a whole lot of other things I’m getting ready to communicate.”
There are two versions of Snooze Button V, a ten-song Deluxe Edition available for purchase on Bandcamp, and a four-song Standard Version available to stream or purchase on other platforms. The reason for the two versions is a commonly held grievance artists have with not getting paid enough for streams. “I’m spending money on this music, and streaming services are paying me a percentage of a penny every time somebody decides to play it, the return is not worth the investment.” Armond WakeUp has received lots of positive feedback on his decision to have two different versions, saying that he has many loyal fans who have chosen to purchase the project.
The Deluxe Version begins with “a bang,” as he describes. “Break 21” is a declaration “of I’m here, and we’re gonna rap, and we’re gonna honor and glorify God by rapping really good.” He hopes that making songs in excellence will reflect the quality of God.
“Say Something Stupid” was inspired in part by WWE fighter Brock Lesnar. The song begins with a 2013 interview clip from the wrestler, “asserting himself as the best, and then he tells his manager Paul Heyman to say something stupid. The next voice you hear is mine,” said Armond WakeUp. The song seeks to express humility, with Armond knowing that he is only great because of the Lord within him.
“I’m placing myself low to reflect Christ in a high way.”
Snooze Button V continues with “They Really Killed Nipsey, SMH,” Armond’s response to the March 31st murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was thirty-three years old. “I was a fan of Nip since 2009. I liken what I’m doing with Kairos Culture and the mailing list and those sorts of things to what Nipsey was doing. Nip was ahead of his time in terms of being a visionary.” The incident brought back painful memories of the deaths of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. from Armond WakeUp’s youth. “With Nipsey, it felt like we were watching somebody work really hard to get to a certain place, and to have that taken away, especially over something stupid and nonsensical, it was really disheartening and heartbreaking.”
“What Happened,” featuring Jonathan Baker, is a song that Armond WakeUp describes as one of worship. “JB and I, whenever we get together, it’s magical because he’s able to make art at a very high caliber.” He compares their relationship to that of Jonathan and King David, described in the Old Testament books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel.
“I want to communicate what happens when two guys get together who love the Lord.”
The following track, “Smuckers,” features Taelor Gray and KamBINO, and the song’s title comes from the original title of the beat. “I didn’t have a cool title to go with it, so we just went with Smuckers.” Armond WakeUp was delighted with the features on this song, as well as every other song on Snooze Button V. “I really appreciate that anyone who gets on a record with me comes with their A-game.”
“Strike Dunham” was named after a character from the 1995 film Clockers. “Strike was somebody who was torn between doing the right thing and being lured by the streets.” The beat on Armond’s song comes from the movie’s soundtrack, and his lyrics were written after a breakthrough from a crippling, lengthy period of writer’s block.
“It’s not mixed or mastered because that was literally the rough take of the song. I loved it so much I didn’t want to re-record it.”
Armond WakeUp talks about his experiences with growing in holiness on “Sanctification is a Process” and “Back from Orlando,” the latter of which considers the perspective of an external person. Armond’s relationship with his girlfriend has had a moving impact on his spiritual growth, especially with how he thinks of other Christians who have varying theological beliefs and practices. “As believers, we should be unified under the belief that Jesus is Lord, Christ is King… we should be able to hear each other out, understand those experiences, and as long as the main takeaway from that is we’re able to glorify God, it’s all good.”
Snooze Button V concludes with “Kitchen Island Raps,” inspired by a moment in a friend’s kitchen. “I was up super late, like two in the morning, and I was sitting on their kitchen island, and I played that beat.” Armond was feeling down that day and decided to start writing his thoughts. “Very rarely do I write based on my emotional state.” He describes 2019 as having been a year of interpersonal transition with numerous redefined relationships.
“We can glorify God in transition. Transition is discomfort, but God is with us in that discomfort, for sure.”
Outside of music, Armond WakeUp enjoys shopping and spending time with his friends and family. “My success is when I can get home every day, and I can hang out with my family and spend time with my children.”