Last month, after headlining the BET Music Matters showcase at S.O.B.’s, we got to sit down with Andy Mineo, an MC with a distinctive approach to hip-hop. Displaying his dexterity as a stimulating performer, Mineo performed on the same night as Pennsylvania lyrical maestro, MoRUF. Andy is indeed a spiritual soul, something that is reflected in his sound, without ever sounding preachy or condescending. After excelling on stage, Andy, a Reach Records representative, then relaxed, opened up, and candidly revealed all, from his influences to his future plans.

At just 26 years of age, Andy Mineo, an inspired Christian artist, speaks in the same manner he raps; with an intense maturity. During our interview, the New Yorker displayed a real sense of growth and complete confidence in his creative merit.  Listening to him speak so eloquently, it seems inconceivable to picture Andy as a rebellious, antisocial adolescent, however, a wild child he was. Expelled from public school for questionable antics, it wasn’t long before Andy discovered Christ, and this breakthrough motivated him to channel his energy in a positive light. Once he began college, Andy immersed himself in the ingenuity of T.R.U.C.E, an arts ministry that directed him down a path of realization and poignant rap.

After releasing a couple of mixtapes, Andy’s reputation as a Christian rap artist grew significantly, a fact that culminated in the release of Heroes for Sale, a record that marked his official debut on the mainstream stage. An undoubtedly poetic and lucid individual, the title came from Andy’s belief that hero is a word that should be used wisely. Yes, of course, we live amongst some true heroes, from paramedics to fire-fighters; however, there is only one true hero, an enigmatic entity that allows us do truly great things. Remarkably, in the first week of its release, the album peaked at #2 on the iTunes charts and claimed top spot in the hip hop category.

Besides hip-hop, Andy is an artist who embraces elements of indie and more soulful artists, from Duke Ellington to Justin Timberlake; Mineo is a liberal thinker who allows various inventive elements inspire his musical output. So often an abundance of influences can be as detrimental as it can be valuable, but Mineo delivers wordplay that is as resonant as it is magnetic. His video and television is also a notable feature, with one of his finest creations coming in the form of a four-part web series. “Saturday Morning Car-Tunez”, was an ambitious mini-project, one in which Mineo portrayed himself and remixed some unforgettable hip-hop tracks.

Dropping two years after his free LP, ‘Formerly Known,’ Heroes For Sale came with great expectation, so much pressure was placed on such young shoulders. Yet, even with the tangible anticipation, Andy fashioned an immensely amiable recorded, blending tight lyrics with impressive guitar riffs. His music reflects his disposition, one that promotes positivity, even at the darkest moments in your existence. A man who harbours real ambitions of screen writing and launching his own fashion label, Andy is not your everyday rapper. Some uninformed sectors of society believe that Christian rap is afraid to tackle the darker subjects, a fallacious belief that Andy obliterates in a resounding manner.

On “Wild Things,” one of his darker tracks, the rapper touches on the grimier undercurrent of urban life, from porn stars to dope dealers, nothing is off limit. A song that elevates your heart rate, gets your adrenaline pumping, Andy highlights the uglier elements of society, unapologetically and methodically.

A man who clearly works with quality producers, the majority of Andy’s music carries a deeply evocative vibe. The sophistication displayed on tracks like “You Will” is extremely impressive; just listen as Andy says, “Ya’ll got jokes like Bart Simpson on Bart phones” all before we hear a clip involving “Moe’s Tavern,” an artistic deviation that really must be heard to be fully appreciated. A rapper who knows how to evoke your deepest feelings, one of Andy’s most poignant offerings is called “Bitter,” a track that kicks off with a distressing voicemail from his father.

Translucent and painfully honest, songs such as “Shallow “and “Still Bleeding” are fully detailed accounts involving Andy’s past relationship struggles. Like LeBron on the court, Andy gives it his all, rarely ever holding back. Others may actively boycott personal troubles, but Christian rap has encouraged Mineo to embrace his weaknesses as well as his strengths. Ultimately, we, as mere mortals, could learn something from this.

So, erase any preconceived notions of religious based rap, the New Yorkers enterprise deserves to be admired and embraced. Through his music, Andy grants us full access to his life, the triumphs and the failings. He is a young man, one who is still striving to better himself, a fact that he actively promotes on a continuous basis. Sonically luscious, Christian rap has never been more important. Andy Mineo is an innovator to be reckoned with and respected, a man who creates music that will submerge itself deep within your conscious.

All Photos © 2014 Brian Luman for Heed Magazine