Rapper Andy Mineo, who's gained popularity for his Christian message and music as a Reach Records artist, shared where he's at in his faith walk as he's matured as a hip-hop artist, husband and follower of Jesus Christ.
In recent years Christians have watched the ups, downs and transformations of several famous mainstream artists, from Justin Bieber and Kanye West, who've used their platforms to share their faith in Jesus, to the downfall of prominent ministers, including Ravi Zacharias and Carl Lentz. For Mineo, whose viral hit "Coming In Hot" featuring Lecrae was recently certified Gold, selling over 500,000 by the RIAA, his deconstruction of faith has since enhanced his Christian walk.
The artist, who just released the follow-up album to his 2014 installment of Never Land, told The Christian Post in a video interview that he initially came into the faith after having “a real experience with Jesus.”
“I was like, 'I want to follow Jesus. I'm a Christian; He's real.' Then I think, once you become a Christian, then there are opportunities to be a part of camps or little philosophies within Christianity,” he said.
A native of New York, Mineo grew up watching his late mother attend a Pentecostal Assemblies of God church.
"She's swinging from the rafters,” he illustrated, describing his mother's charismatic expression of her faith. Later on, he came to learn more about other denominations. “Baptist, there's the black church — all these different expressions of Christianity. I got caught up in a particular group of Christians. It was considered the Reformed theology group of people.”
The Reformed tradition is derived from Calvinism, which Mineo said began to shape his theological beliefs. Ultimately, he decided it no longer worked for him. At the same time, the 33 year old said he started seeing people he looked up to and admired having terrible fallouts, and that began to impact his ideas of what Christianity looks like.
"I know people are flawed and broken. But it starts to make you wonder like, well, they gave me information. So I'm wondering, was the information that they gave me wrong? Sometimes you can turn people's hurt into God hurt,” Mineo added. "Over the years of seeing and getting behind the curtain a little bit, being in the Christian world to a degree, you start to see things like, this doesn't add up.”
“I think that sent me into a bit of a deconstruction. I'm not just in my early 20s now, just listening to what people say and taking it all in. I think I have to actually really filter this stuff out, rethink and re-understand who I am as a man and also as a Christian, and what parts am I going to keep and let go of and what parts are helpful, what parts are not,” he told CP.
Mineo's new album, Never Land II,is inspired by the 1991 film "Hook" starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts. It focuses on the concept that Peter Pan recovers his childlike sense of imagination while on a rescue mission. The artist has been on his own journey with his faith since 2016.
“It's still a journey; I don't feel like I've arrived. I think that's an OK place to be. I have my opinions about things, but I think this is the difference: I have my opinions, I don't feel like everyone else has to share my opinions or my thoughts,” Mineo said.
"Younger Andy would probably look at this Andy and be like, he's a clown. And I'm looking at younger Andy like, you're a clown. I'm a different person and I view things differently, he said of his own transformation.
"I think the American Church has a lot of great things that it does. It sets up incredible systems for people — daycare and trying to share the Word of God and missions trips around the world and fund people. It does a lot of good. Then on the flip side, I think it's really hard when something is such a big entity and generates so much money and creates so much celebrity. It's hard not to see some of that turned sour at times,” he said.
While Mineo doesn't describe himself as a "Christian rapper," he keeps his music clean and often talks about his faith. He told CP that he also doesn't want to tear anybody down or shun the American Church.
“I just think there's a lot of questions that need to be asked and things that need to be reconsidered. I don't think there's any one right way; I think everything needs to have some sort of reformation. Even as humans, ‘How do I do life?’ Maybe I should change some of that and tweak it so that it's healthier. Those are good questions to ask,” he asserted.
Mineo, whose latest record carries the same vulnerability the emcee has always had on his albums, said it's important that people find out how they connect with God because “not everyone connects with God in the same way.”
The husband said his wife can look at nature and can connect with God. He, on the other hand, connects with God via music, the Bible and his small church community.
“I think you got to figure out how you connect with God, and I think that's important for people to know how to grow. I think there are probably basic core principles that we can all learn from. [It's important to have a] community of people who love you, care about God, have each other's back, read Scripture and pray. For me, we have a group of people that gather at a house here in Atlanta, it's like six of us. We've just been reading the Bible and hanging out.”
For now, Mineo said the small church setting is where he feels led to fellowship.
"Those are decisions me and my wife and my family have made to try to stay connected to other Christians, to try to read the Bible. We had to get away from the big, huge church world. I needed a little break from that,” Mineo revealed.
Since Mineo released Never Land (part 1) seven years ago, the artist said a lot has changed.
"[My] love life has changed and evolved. My taste in music, the way I create. I think I've just gotten better over the years. I would have retired, but I just keep getting better — that's the problem,” he quipped.
"I think it’s the best music I've ever made. I think I got a different perspective on things now that more life has taught me things,” Mineo continued. “I always just try to put what we call survival information into the music. I've lived through some things. Here's what I learned, here's what I'm gonna put in the music. It seems to help people, and people keep asking for it. So I keep making it and it's the best job in the world, honestly.”
Mineo said he is now “buying cabinets and countertops. At one point, I was buying Jordans and Fitteds.”
The one thing that has remained in his music over the years is his vulnerability.
“Every time I approach music, I try to create from that heart, and I think that's something that people always gravitate to. They know that they're going to get vulnerability and honesty from me," Mineo maintained. “Everything else, for the most part, changes and evolves with age and time. I think still having a passion to create music that is not just stylish but also has substance, that's still a calling card for me. I try to create wholesome art that isn't preachy or corny. My relationship with God is a continual theme that continues to run through my art, my music, because you talk about things that are important to you.”
Throughout his interview with CP, Mineo discussed therapy and counseling and how they can be a beneficial outlet, especially for men who are often encouraged to suppress their feelings.
"I think just for men, in general, it's hard because we've been told our whole life that to have feelings is pretty much off-limits. Like, that's not manly to have feelings. But it's also stupidity because, as human beings, we all have feelings. It's just a certain few of us choose to try to figure out how to process what’s happening inside our chest, our heart.
"The rest of us just push it down, and it's like burying toxic waste in your front yard and then thinking nothing's gonna happen to your house or your vegetables. It's all still there, you got to deal with it, throw stuff out, work with it.
"It's hard for people to get vulnerable because it means people don't feel safe. Like, what if someone sees me and they reject me or they don't like me or there's stuff I got to work on. I'd rather just act like it doesn't exist and try to just bury things and move through life,” he added. "But what I found, somebody told me, 'We bury emotions alive.' They're not dead. They come out at some point unless you deal with them and work through them and have community or therapists or people around you to feel safe to share those things.”
As for his hopes for the album Never Land II, Mineo wants people to relate to his honestly while focusing on their own well-being.
He said at the moment, his favorite song on the album is “Trying.”
I think the vulnerability and the songwriting are some of my best,” Mineo added. It's one of those moments I lay myself bare. I've just been trying my whole life to do and be all these things. I don't think I've done a good job at it in life.”
Never Land II is now available to stream everywhere.
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic