LABEL: REACH RECORDS
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 29, 2011
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5
Who is Andy Mineo? That’s one pertinent question that I, along with other frenzied Christian hip-hop lovers have been grappling with for the past year and a half. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve followed him around the Internet and I know a lot about him. I was actually among the pre-‘Background’ era fan base, which ironically catapulted him center stage after listeners warmly welcomed it far and wide. I actually can say, that I had his ‘Sin is Wack’ mix tape, even though it was sitting around for a while before I actually listened to it. In the whole scheme of things, when I retraced my steps, I realized that my though process and reasoning for turning a blind eye to it was a bit shallow and along the lines of something like; ‘the industry is already booming so, I’ll just sit on this for a while.’ How naïve! In fact, it really wasn’t until the summer before Lecrae’s ‘Rehab’ was released that I took a keen listen to what the guy had to say, even though the mixtape was a year old! Apparently, his name on the ‘Rehab’ track-list produced waves of flashback for me and, I immediately recognized his name and recall the love-hate relationship his songs had on my playlist. Nonetheless, as I searched through my library, I was fortunate enough to re-discover his mixtape. Low and behold, I would thereafter be blown away by the cohesiveness and the stellar production of the project. It was beyond me how a debutant work could sound as sonically compact and lyrically creative as this one did. There has been some great debut works no doubt but this was of the crisper kind and far ahead of its class. Furthermore, the distinctive melodious flow for which he is now recognized kept it on par all the way through, concurrently developing an insatiable desire for equally good music from him in the future, if not better. It lead back to many questions like, “Who was this guy?” and, “How did he come up with such a masterpiece?” The most pressing question though was, “What would ‘Background’ sound like then?”
History speaks for itself; Andy Mineo (formerly known as C-Lite) became a household name. Frankly speaking, Lecrae did an awesome job with his bars on ‘Background’, but that hook was something to write home about! In fact, it made the album one of, if not the best X-ian albums to date. What is interesting is that New York’s native Andy Mineo would go on to became one of the most sought after feature for a song, particularly so that he could sing hooks. Consider it his real claim to fame since his own work did, regrettably of course, passed under the radar. However, he had the year of his life as a starting musician since he held his spots on the projects of other premiere artists. The funny thing is that he rarely got to do a verse even though his mixtape revealed that he was a potent wordsmith. So, sooner than later, the questions began to shift to, “When is this guy going to rap?” Fans were hungry to say the least and, they had indeed waited painstakingly for some announcement of an album or something of the sort. However, history would have it that one day in July, premier label, Reach Records announced that they had strengthened their battalion by adding C-Lite, who would thereafter be recognized by his real name, Andy Mineo. Talk about getting the start of your life! Coming on the exodus of Sho Baraka, it was a well-suited addition. It also would identify itself as a pressure point with him having to live up to a name and having to fulfill expectations.
Well, did he make good of it? You bet he did. In keeping up with the surprises, in the week of the release of the ‘Man up’ curriculum project and further deluxe projects, out of nowhere, a mixtape/album that is probably one of the best albums this year, was released by the Reach prodigy. Don’t overlook this one! In fact, where were you when you heard that Andy Mineo just release a project- a free one, to be more precise? I was at dinner and I ate like I was on a diet. Man, was I in for treat of my life!
So, the specifics of the project is simply this; It is called ‘Formerly Known’ and’ it as assumes three distinct roles; it officially introduces him as ‘Andy Mineo’; it discussed also how God foreknew us before birth; and for the Christian, it highlights how we were once sinful but, having put on Christ, were made new in him are can no longer be identify with who we use to be.
As far as the songs go, fasten your seatbelts! Whew! My advice to you is that you escape for a while because frankly, you are going to love what you hear and would prefer if the listening session goes undisturbed. Or better yet, presuming that you’re an authentic fan of this Hip-Hop movement let me pose a hard question to you; what’s your favorite track? I know it’s a painstaking process but, don’t scream at the same time! Is it the heavily synthesized title track ‘Formerly known featuring Co. Campbell’; already crowd favorite, ‘Fools’ Gold’ with High Society’s Sho Baraka and Swoope? How about ‘Every Word’, ‘Everyday Thing’ or ‘Hello World’? Wait, I know; it definitely has to be ‘Michael Jackson’ which has one of the most stellar line-up since this year where rappers are concerned. Plus, he even did the unthinkable when he added a renowned golfer to the mix! Now that, my friend is Genius!
Personally, I like ‘Fools’ Gold’ and ‘Michael Jackson’-which samples a Kanye West line- the best. Sho Baraka shows why he is in a league of his own with his intentional yet clever wordplay which is underscored by a deeper meaning to be looked into and Swoope-oh boy-Swoope is a at his finest! This, is swagger rapping at its best-no pun intend. Andy lays the final layer to a ‘too-hot-to handle’ single with crooning and rapping that is begging for your attention. I have probably listened to this song a hundred times!
As in the case with the latter song, if the King of Pop doesn’t shake his boots then nobody will! This’l Raps ‘Was a bad boy, but my name ain’t Diddy though’ while R-Swift and Rich Perez add the rest of the steam-enough to give you third degree burns-to this song. It is such good song that they are able to creatively present the whole gospel message and it potency in their own lives while still keeping the crowd on its feet. It then finishes of on a comical note with Pro-golfer Bubba Watson adding a short sample, which, obviously is to generate smiles. It also closes out a fine project; one that I am sure, will stay continually in rotation by me.
Now, I only highlighted six songs out of a possible fourteen without even mentioning other bangers, which, only underscores my judgment that Andy Mineo is a whiz kid where music is concerned and, a Christian who can communicate his worldview in a very effectual way. True fans will know that he samples a lot of old school music and is a fan of producer Johnny Juliano. Production on the album also features Skrip and other unlisted Producers. His talent and approach to music automatically puts him ahead of many well-established artists. He has a knack intermixing his melodies with his rapping which, usually generate comparison to Drake but who’s complaining? Also, It’s obvious that his close friendship with extraordinaire producer Alex Medina has somewhat helped him to his hone his craft so well. After all, it was him who gave his name to Lecrae. So, having highlighted all this about this relatively new wunderkind, how will you respond? The real question, I think, is this; do you have your funds to buy his next album when it comes out next year, as I would presume? You don’t have to tell me to pay attention twice. I already hid my stash in a can and buried it in a hole. I can only assume from this that it is going to be Legend-wait for it-dary!
Review title provided courtesy of Reach Records