Andy Mineo on New Album 'Heroes for Sale' and Christian Rappers Selling Out
Rapper and Reach Records artist Andy Mineo's new album Heroes for Sale hits stores and iTunes this week. Mineo signed with the label that is home to other popular Christian artists such as Lecrae and Trip Lee in 2011 and released his mixtape Formerly Known. Heroes for Sale is his official debut and was recorded during a period where he toured with his labelmates and built up a buzz with fans of Christian hip-hop. The video for his first single 'AYO' was released in January and now he's ready to reveal the rest of this album to the world.
Mineo spoke with The Christian post about Heroes for Sale and the transition of Christian hip-hop.
The Christian Post: How did you come up with the concept for your new album Heroes for Sale.
Mineo: The title came from an idea that I was wrestling with regarding people buying into the idea that other people are heroes. I named it Heroes for Sale'because I think we buy into believing that people have super powers, or that they are superhuman or infallible. Even though we might not say that, we expect that of certain people with those we look up to or idolize.
We see other people as heroes or greater than they really are and put the expectations that we should have in God on them ... and we ourselves try to sell the idea that we're heroes. We try to sell that to other people and make ourselves look greater than we really are. We try to paint the best picture of ourselves to the world so that they can't see our flaws.
CP: Are you referring to how people often portray themselves through social media such as Facebook or Twitter?
Mineo: Absolutely! Check anybodies Facebook or Instagram. Nobody puts up the picture of themselves with a huge pimple on their face. They always put up the picture that makes their skin look smooth or perfect.
But I also talk about the idea of self righteousness that we deal with in our churches [on the album]. As Christians, we don't want anyone to know our flaws, but we love pointing out flaws in others. We want people to see us as great.
I think through a lot of my transparency on this record I talk a lot about my frailties and my mess ups and how God is gracious in dealing with me. I hope that people are able to say it's ok to be honest with God about where we are and really believe that he can change us. And in addition to that, no matter how messed up you are that there is a God that loves you and wants you. That's some of the idea around Heroes for Sale. None of us are really heroes. There is only one hero.
CP: Who were some of the heroes that you had who let you down?
Mineo: I really idolized and looked up to certain men of God. Men that had discipled me and poured into me from a distance and from up close. Watching them fail was so devastating to me. I thought they were supposed to be perfect and represent Jesus to me. What I realized is that I was so crushed by seeing other [Christians] around me fail because I put them way too high. I put my expectations of them way too high and almost saw them as infallible. It led me to not pray for them or check on them prior to them failing. I realized that nobody is exempt and all of us struggle.
I even found myself judging them and God began to say to me, "Who are you to point a finger at them? Who are you to judge them? If it wasn't for my grace you would be in a similar situation." God was really dealing with my own self-righteousness and showed me that there's only one true hero that we can put our trust in.
I think we've created a culture, especially in the quote on quote Christian hip-hop realm that has promoted a lot of legalism and perfection. We want to create music that just has answers in it. There's not a culture of grace. In this album I expose a lot of my own sin and struggles and say I need God's grace just as much as I tell other people they do.
CP: What will the people get from an Andy Mineo record that they haven't already got from some of the other artists from your record label, such as Lecrae?
Mineo: Lecrae is an incredible artist in his own right. Some of the main differences [between him and I] are our life experiences and musical influences. I'm from the East Coast. Lecrae's from all over the place. He lives in the south and has a lot of southern influence. Listeners are going to hear different musical influences. We have different beat selections. I'll pick a record where I might do heavy metal. Lecrae might not ever do that.
You'll also get different experiences. I'm a single 24-year-old and he's married with three kids. You'll get a different perspective [from me]. He's done a lot more life. He's been a Christian longer. You get a passion for Christ and to make him known from the both of us.
CP: Christian rappers have received criticism for watering down the message in their lyrics to appeal to be larger audience. Do you think that Christians need to make their content less about Christianity in order to reach a larger base?
Mineo: [Christians] often get caught in a bubble and forget that the way that we do life- or the terminology that we use- is widely not understood elsewhere. So if I'm talking about Jesus and the hypostatic union, Bible students and Christians might understand what that is, but if I'm trying to get on mainstream radio that's probably not the lingo I'm going to use because it's probably not well understood. I think often Christians interpret that as you guys aren't using explicit Christian language, [therefore] you are watering it down. I don't think that it's watering it down. I think it's becoming all things to all people in order to bring a Christian worldview into the mainstream.
I believe that if you are being explicit about Jesus, there's something about that which turns off mainstream radio and music videos. The name of Jesus for some reason is just very controversial. We saw Kanye West do it with 'Jesus Walks.' But his content in that song was saying, "Jesus is what I need and whatever works for you is cool too." I also think that music isn't a place where we have to explicitly talk about Jesus. I think it can be. But I don't think it has to be. That's why I'm ok with making songs that sometimes don't [talk about] Jesus. There's different ways to present the message. It's very hard to say whether there's a right or wrong way.
CP: Do you feel that Christian artists sometimes get boxed into making the same kind of song all the time?
Mineo: I have felt that way in the past because I think that we have created that audience. [Christian rappers] have created songs that are very Bible and answer driven. Like we literally explain Bible verses. And by making these songs, we create that expectation or that taste on the tongue of the people, and when we don't give them that they react by saying that [rappers are ashamed of the Gospel]. And that's not true.
I just know that I have the freedom in Christ to write a song about sneakers. Or I could write a song about the crucifixion and the implications of that. I think we have boxed ourselves in and now we're trying to go through a transition and say that we don't want to be legalists in this area anymore. We want to say that there's freedom to talk about all things because all things belong to God.
CP: How can you tell if a Christian artist is selling out, abandoning their faith, or making music not glorifying God?
Mineo: I think I'd have to see a rapper clearly compromising what scripture calls us to. That would be the only way. If I'm not able to, I'm not able to judge that person by the fruit of their life [if I don't know them personally]. People want to judge rappers' entire lifestyles and character based on a 3-minute song and that's just not fair. I'm more concerned about how that rapper lives, how they take care of their wife and kids, and their faithfulness to Jesus. Those are some of the things to me that are more important.
I think we get caught up as a Christian culture in what Christian t-shirts we are wearing and what genre we're in. Fans judge the labels as opposed to judging someone's lifestyle. God cares more about our hearts and our lives. Not the music genre that we're under, or if we're able to label ourselves as Christian artists or not.
For more information on Andy Mineo and Reach Records visit:
Fans can purchase Heroes for Sale on iTunes or through select retailers this week.