Exclusives - Interviews
Andy Mineo on SXSW Experience, Uncomfortable Tour, Dreams of Working With Adele & More [Q&A]
Hip hop has continued to grow as an art form and culture since its inception, with each generation creating diversifying elements to add to the complex genre. The new wave of artists are exploring different ways to use their own personal interests to connect with listeners, including everything from singing to religion.
Christian hip hop artist, Andy Mineo, delivers a fresh perspective to his music with inspirational rhymes and a laid back attitude, revealing just how minuscule the gap between faith and the genre truly is. His 2015 sophomore album, Uncomfortable, dominated the Billboard music charts. It peaked at number one on both the Christian Albums and Independent Albums charts, while also coming in at number three on the Top Rap Albums chart and number 10 on the Billboard 200.
Mineo thrives off good energy, entertaining fans, and bringing a positive change to the lives of others. Before kicking off the second leg of his Uncomfortable tour on Thursday (March 31) in Pennsylvania, the 27-year-old New York native spoke candidly with Music Times about his unforgettable experience at SXSW, how he prepares for a two-month adventure on the road, new music he's working on, dreams of collaborating with Adele, and so much more.
How did you feel about XXL magazine naming you one of the 30 rappers to look out for at SXSW?
It felt great man. I respect XXL as a historic, iconic magazine and voice in the hip hop culture. For them to point the finger at me and recognize what were doing was an encouragement.
How was your overall SXSW experience?
Man, it was great! It's really just a hub for everything creative and interesting happening in music and all the surrounding outlets like social media. I just wish I could have stayed longer, but I previously made family plans so I had to dip out. I did a showcase with Tory Lanez and lots of other opportunities popped up, but I had to get back and handle some family things. It was super fun! I got to connect with so many people, like on the airplane and even just walking down the street being stopped by other artists. Bodega Bamz said he saw my show and thought it was crazy, so we swapped numbers. It's a hub for all things that are poppin' right now, so it was real cool.
You've been known to bring out a diverse crowd to your shows. Why do you think it's so easy for people of different backgrounds to connect with your music?
I don't know. That's a good question, maybe you should tell me. I maybe think some of it is - I kind of have this multi-genre, trans-cultural vibe to me, you know what I mean? I'm a white kid who lives in New York City, in Washington Heights, emerged in hip hop culture, and I'm married to a Spanish girl. So, there's just so many different aspects of who I am for people to connect and relate to. Plus, I'm just a funny dude. I have fun being myself. I think there's different things that people like me for and I try to put it all in my music and my brand. I also think it's because I stand for things and positivity in such a dark space, where music right now, especially in hip hop, is very dark. There's not a lot of hopefulness and things like that. So me just being me and saying, "this is what I stand for," is refreshing for people.
Despite having to leave early, was there anyone at SXSW you were looking forward to seeing?
Yeah, I really wanted to connect with Jack Garratt. He's a phenomenal artist. He's just one of my favorite artists right now. He sings, he produces, he plays guitar and piano - he's just got everything I love. It's like soul, hip hop, rock, and everything is mixed together. He's from the UK. I swear something's in the water over there.
You kickoff the second leg of your Uncomfortable tour on Thursday, how do you prepare?
One of the things I gotta do is make sure my clothing is taken care of. You know, gotta be fresh on stage for sure and make sure everything is in order, because I'm about to leave my home for two months. My wife's coming out with me, so that should be a blast. Because this is the second set of shows, there's a lot less to prepare for, but of course we're gonna have rehearsals and take out the tour bus. It should be fun.
How would you describe your performance style?
Violent! It's just really high energy, intricate, thoughtful - I have parts in my performance that venture almost into theater. Performing live, entertaining people, and giving people meaningful experiences is probably my favorite thing in the world to do. I love entertaining. I genuinely enjoy bringing smiles to people's faces, making them think, making them laugh, and all of that comes out in the show. Some people don't like standing in front of others. They'll get shy, but I thrive off of it. I feel alive when I get the chance to do that. I think that's one of my gifts. That's how I get to serve people, by giving them an experience. My goal every time I perform is to have someone leave saying, "that was the craziest show I've ever been to in my life!" We've heard it plenty of times, so I think I'm on to something.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Yeah, me and the guys will usually get together for a time of devotional and we'll get to read, or pray, or talk, and discuss things. We try to get our hearts and our minds right, and just be reminded that as we go out there that we're to serve people and not ourselves. We want to honor God and all that he's given us, because not everybody gets to do this. Not everyone gets to have a career in art and perform for a living so we always keep a sober mind when we go out there. We don't want to be puffed up and prideful, because I think that's the beginning of the end for some people when they start feeling themselves too hard. So we just try to humble ourselves and mind ourselves while we're there, and go out and have a good time.
Can fans expect a different type of energy when you hit your hometown of New York?
Well, they turn up already, so New York is gonna be wild as is. I give my all at every show, but if there's one show that's extra special to my heart, it's definitely the hometown show. It's the second show, so hopefully I can work out all the kinks at the first show
Do you have any crazy tour stories?
I remember I was doing a show out in Phoenix, Arizona with Lecrae in front of a crowd of like 6,000 people. It was a big stage, big show, and I remember I stepped out onto one of the subwoofers. As I was stepping back onto the stage, I missed the stage and I fell off of the subwoofer. I fell on a cameraman, so he broke my fall, but the crazy part was I never stopped rapping. Even as I was falling I kept rapping, rolling on the ground and still rapping. So it was like nothing ever happened, except for the guy that I fell on. I have plenty of falling stories. I'm like the king of falling off stage, because I'm so interactive when I perform.
Have you been working on any new material since dropping your sophomore album?
Yeah, absolutely! I think my new goal is to stay focused and work all year round, instead of just trying to turn it on for album time. I'm very meticulous as an artist and a creator. I can't just work on a song, it be done in one day, and then just put it out. I try to update production and take it to the highest level I can before I release it and that takes time...and money. So I have to space it out. I just got back from doing a week in Atlanta with some incredible producers and we're really pushing ourselves to invent a new sound and create something refreshing in music. I feel like that's really my purpose in music, to not just ride the wave, but create new ones.
You premiered "No Way Out" on Sway in the Morning, can we expect that song on a future mixtape or any other project?
Maybe, we're trying to figure that out right now. I have a lot of songs that never came out from Uncomfortable and then I got a lot of songs that are even in the works right now, so we're thinking about breaking people off with something right before the tour or have something ready for summer. We're just scheming and planning and trying to put things in their place. You should never rush things and always provide a high-quality product for the listeners.
Are you looking to collaborate with any artists? Or are there any producers you really want to work with?
Yea, I'm really excited about collaborating with people outside of hip hop. I really get inspired by people in different genres and I feel like that adds a really refreshing element to hip hop. So yea, I'd love to collaborate with Jack Garratt and Adele at some point would be wonderful, but I don't think she'd ever do a rapper collaboration unless it's with someone like Drake or something. Those are more of the things I'm into, taking my multicultural influences and bringing them to other spaces. It's amazing that I get to work with a lot of the producers I've always wanted to. I would love to say Timbaland or Pharrell, but those guys need a bag to get to work. So, I'm really interested in finding the next Pharrell, the next Timbaland, the guys you've never heard of, and build a sound with them.
How would you describe your growth as an artist from the beginning of your career to now?
I think I'm just more thoughtful about every aspect of the creative process, which can be beneficial sometimes and bad other times, because now I can over think things. I've grown as a lyricist, I think I've grown as a songwriter, and I feel myself continuing to grow. I feel like the pen is getting better and stronger, the whit is getting sharper, and life experiences have made me a more well-rounded artist. When you're in your early twenties, you're writing from a particular space mentally, but now being a little older you have a little more life, more experiences to pull from, and more wisdom to add to the music. I think that just continues to happen overtime as long as you stay relevant. You can make great music that can inspire people older and younger than you.