History does not happen in a straight line...͟ Barack Obama Neither does hip hop nor its prolific breakout rhymist/activist/author/voice of conscience Lecrae.Never afraid to move the needle, few would argue that his much anticipated Columbia Records debut album (due out this summer) comes at a pivotal moment for the artist, as hip hops torrent now moves to him. Surging or insurgent - depending on your point of view - hes blessed with a visionary verbal arsenal and an abiding faith thats piloted a unique career trajectory defying the typical hip hop storyline. The system may not have planned for this, wrote Vibe about Lecrae, but its definitely coming around.More caught than taught, is how the artist describes his incredible journey that includes two Grammys, a history-making #1 album with his masterful 2014 offering, Anomaly (topped multiple categories, including the Billboard 200 and is RIAA Gold certified), and a compelling live resume, most recently notching a headlining 2016 Destination tour which Lecrae says was about real unity, not pretend unity.He continues to thoughtfully engage the culture, reeling off a NY Times Bestseller (last years riveting memoir Unashamed) and a breakthrough spoken word performance at the BET Hip Hop Awards last fall that had the twittersphere heralding his arrival as truth-telling firebrand. BET hailed it as an epic poem, of necessary affirmations.Lecrae relishes his purpose-driven career arc as inspired catalyzer - going from artist to architect on the new album, widening the close-knit comfort zone of Reach Records (the label he co-founded) by partnering with Columbia Records and expanding his creative outreach. I sought influences and collaborators I never imagined Id have the opportunity to work with, he says. The patient growth process was born out of a gumbo of more than 50 songs, some to just get off my chest, he says - I dont know if they were all meant to be heard but I know they were meant to be written.One song that has already seen the light of day is the powerfully uplifting Blessings, (featuring Ty Dolla $ign) which iHeartRadio chose for their On The Verge platform which connects breaking artists with new listeners. Lecrae cites a refreshed perspective throughout the making of the new album after surviving one of the most tumultuous years hes experienced since his turbulent teens. Among the hardships was the passing of his longtime friend and collaborator DJ Official, some painful personalramifications after the publication of the unvarnished Unashamed, trusting friendships that went south, and chronic social media sparring from those attacking Lecrae for his candid and heartfelt perspective in response to the heartbreaking social justice issues making headlines in 2016. Some people felt that maybe I shouldnt be articulating the pain when it comes to the structural and systemic issues that have created barriers and disparity in regard to race, he says. But I came out of it feeling more confident in making this album then at any other time in my life.
With trusted friend and Grammy winning producer S1 serving as a key production contributor, Lecraesays it was healing for him to weave some of the more nuanced, complex themes of the new album and come out the other side. Its about giving hope to people that they can overcome the fear and the insecurity when things do fall apart, he says. The before and after of it all. It may get ugly in your life, but theres a point of rediscovery where the fear can actually drive the faith and restore you. Sometimes you have to acknowledge where you are at before it can get better.Such authenticity has been the hallmark of his 7 studio albums and multiple mixtapes, now nearing the 2 million mark in sales, with the acclaimed artist winning a Billboard Music Award, multiple BET, Soul Train, and Dove awards and even an Honorary Doctorate of music to go along with his 2 Grammy wins. Past signature songs like the ultra-relatable Church Clothes, and the prophetic, multi-perspective of Welcome To America revealed a Lecrae exploring the plight of the disconnected in all of us. Critics have praised the sociological component of his work and his heightened sensitivity toward the disenfranchised. On the upcoming album, Lecrae hints hes still mindful of the outsider role thats enabled him to work the edges of hip hop stardom, but also conscious of the world coming into his space, now. I dont fit in to any one category, he says. The BET performance showed I can compete on the highest level and demolish it. Ive already proven Im part of the hip hop narrative. On this album Im taking liberties.3/17

For some time now, Andy Mineo has been blazing his own path, broadening his influence and walking unapologetically in his calling. Since releasing his debut mixtape under Reach Records—2011’s critically lauded Formerly Known—he’s proven to be both consistent and unpredictable in his approach.

This commitment to staying the course has earned him a slew of Billboard-charting records, high praise from his hip-hop counterparts, and sold out tours across the United States and Europe. His
colossal hit “You Can’t Stop Me” not only won an ESPN Whammy Award for MLB’s Top Walk Up Song, but also went RIAA ® certified gold, selling over 500,000 copies worldwide. 2015’s Uncomfortable saw Mineo hit another stratosphere, artistically and in terms of commercial recognition.

In 2018, Mineo is set to make his greatest impact yet. His most recent project The Arrow is the first installment in a four-chapter EP that, taken together, will culminate into his third LP. Thematically, The Arrow is a refreshing take on a host of pressing topics that will resonate with
new listeners and longtime fans alike; it candidly explores doubt, disillusionment, love, loss, and what it means to navigate an ever-changing world as a person of faith.

Things kick off with the eviscerating “I’ve Been…” and close with “…Lost,” tracks that find Mineo rapping and singing about losing his way in order to find who he is and what he’s made of; where an existential crisis ultimately becomes the very thing that brings about the necessary perspective. “Feeling like a young idealist” he raps with equal parts despair and self-assurance over a soothing piano loop. On “Clarity” his delivery is methodical and technically precise; he maneuvers across the drums effortlessly, confessing “All I want is clarity/Cause all of my heroes are frauds, just like me.” The track is a stark manifesto that showcases his ability as well as a kind of behavioral therapy that manages to maintain a redemptive quality. Perhaps one of the most energizing aspects of the EP is how Mineo makes it a point to ask important questions rather than attempting to offer pat answers to complex issues simply to appease the casual
listener. Truth is, sometimes the questions are more invigorating than the answers. And any artist worth their weight understands that every person’s journey is different. The Arrow is, in part, the story of a man—successful in his own right—on the long and sometimes lonely road of self-discovery. Mineo has made it part of his life’s work not to allow any destructive voices or opinions hinder that progress.

More proof of this is the explosive and experimental “I Ain’t Done,” where he shouts “Oh, well, if they don’t like it, I might turn up by myself.” For three minutes, he punctures the beat, waxing
poetic on the trappings of people-pleasing and of trying to meet the expectations of others who may not always have your best interest in mind. In The Arrow, Mineo crafts a conceptual, and even ethereal, project that further reveals himself to be an artist for our time: curious about the brave new world in which he finds himself and fearless in his pursuit of truth and creative expression. There’s a delicate mix of brazen and vulnerable that makes him endearing and relatable. Bet against him at your own risk.




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