Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Reach Records 2013 The reviewer is constantly neck deep in internal conflict especially when the project to be reviewed is from a favourite. On one hand is the reviewer’s professionalism and integrity and on the other is his/her bias because Artiste X or Y has a prime position most of the reviewer’s lists. The “modern Christian” faces such conflict in terms of honouring and worshipping God and at the same time remaining relevant in this fallen world. Again, the rapper’s struggles remain as he tries to “be real” as well as “play-worthy”, finding the proper balance being uncompromisingly true to his art as well as ensuring people can listen to him. This tragically gets harder as the genre keeps evolving and even within Christian Hip Hop we’ve seen the move from the Cross movement days to the days of chanting “unashamed” and “116” and we’re now nestled in an era where the lines seem to be blurred all because of the conflicts earlier referenced. It is now time to throw Andy Mineo under the spotlight as we explore this theme of conflicting choices. From the Sin is Wack mixtape to THAT hook on Lecrae’s “Background” then eventually securing a deal with Reach Records and down to singing on other hooks as well as putting out the excellent Formerly Known Andy has become a very tangible analogy to explain growth and proper balance. His latest project Heroes for Sale warns of the potential pitfalls attached to making anyone other than Jesus Christ a “hero”. Of course the lives of many are fully occupied with following so many “role models” but it’s no secret that this dysfunctional world is falling apart no thanks to the so called models and the almost zombie-like devotion they get from their followers. This is an album that boasts some solid production credits with Alex Medina, Tyshane, Dirty Rice and J.R amongst the stellar cast of superpower producers who crafted a lot of these keepers. Their work ensured that these tracks wouldn’t struggle to make it on to literally any radio playlist as well as enjoy heavy rotation. As for content Andy delivers some of his best bars and even injects the right amount of his trademark humour to make this project memorable enough. Another strong point for this album is the flow of the tracks from one to another seamlessly. It is an almost forgotten art; the ability to arrange album tracks in such a way that the tempo isn’t startling or the songs don’t get in the way of each other and in almost all genres seeing an album with proper track arrangement is quite rare. Reach Records has done a good job with majority of its projects in that regard. I should also mention that the album art was given the right amount of attention with the design passing across a relevant theme while doubling as a good looking wallpaper submission for the phone, PC desktop or even a poster. For a 16 track album Heroes for Sale had a fairly sizeable amount of quality tracks with perhaps “Ex-nihilo” being the stand out track. The song is an ode to God and His divine ability to make “something out of nothing” as witnessed in Creation. Several radio anthems abound on the album too, from the skateboard inspired “Ayo” to the dubstep infused “You Will” it’s more than possible that you would be encouraged, taught a thing or two while jumping all over the place in excitement as you listen. Some of the much more sober tracks like “Curious” and “Bitter” hit home as they get you reliving every single step you’ve taken over the years in all your relationships with people to check and see if you could have done much better. Then there’s “Tug of War” with Krizz Kaliko delivering a decent hook while Andy chronicles the everyday Jekyll/Hyde duel within the Believer. He states “anything that I lose to follow you (God) is not a loss” with so much gusto that you’d be forgiven for deciding to give all you have immediately. The album rounds off with “Death has Died”, an encouragement to those who have lost loved ones to look to the One who guarantees Resurrection, comfort and dominion over death. A fitting end to the project although I must comment on a few low points on the album. In some places it feels like Andy was laboriously going through the motions; there wasn’t much weight in some songs rendering them weak in the sense that they seem to have been done just to make up the number. “Cocky” and “Uno Uno Seis” featuring Lecrae fall into this category. Beyond just being lively songs they lack strength to carry one beyond a first listen or a set at a concert. The bottom line is that Heroes for Sale assists in getting your mind focused firmly in the right place (Jesus) right in the thick of things in this world of false heroes. This is good art, good music and of course one of the projects that will remain in our memories for a bit. With so many icons on display for sale Andy Mineo delivers the original Hero who not only saves the day but made it in the first place.