Maybe you are a mid-thirties hip hop guru and no
one can tell you diddly about the history of the
culture. Sure, you might miss a few of the forefathers,
but at least you can name Afrika Bambaataa and
Grandmaster Flash. Maybe you know a little bit
about Jesus, too, and are able to spell out the
Beatitudes like alphabet soup.
Fans of Andy Mineo know that he is a different kind
of rapper, one who embraces not only hip hop, but
rock and R&B, too. Many times, artists attempting to
cover so many genres become no more than cheesy
imitations. But when considering Andy Mineo,
thoughts are conjured of a young hip hop group from
Brooklyn rapping about Paul Revere – he has paid his
dues. Staying true and respectful to artform is no
easy task – Andy is, after all, “Young” (only twenty-
five at the time of the album’s release). But on his
first official retail album, the self-proclaimed nerd-in-
glasses rises to the occasion like Wichita State in the
Final Four.
Heroes For Sale is an album that does not come
without a great deal of anticipation. It has been
almost two years since the release of his free album,
‘Formerly Known,’ with only minimal releases
following it from Andy such as his Saturday Morning
Car-Tunez series. The album takes off with
“Superhuman” produced by Joseph Prielozny and
Dirty Rice, a production team most recently known
for their banger “All In” on the W.L.A.K. project. The
hymn “Come Ye Sinners Poor and Needy” sets the
stage for an extremely personable album, blended
seamlessly with a distorted guitar that lends to the
idea of evangelism even in the darkest of places.
“Even though my pride’s tellin me don’t ever let the
fans know / I am not a Superhuman, no, I’m a man”
– “Superhuman”
Similar transparency is portrayed throughout the
album on songs like “Bitter” as well as
“Shallow” (featuring Swoope). The former, originally
released as under Andy’s previous alias C-Lite, takes a
look at his relationship with his father. After
dedicating a good thirty seconds to a voice mail from
the estranged family member, Andy provides wisdom
like “If Jesus forgave me and washed away my sins
when I didn’t deserve it then I can forgive him.” The
listener may not have experienced an absent father,
but this short snippet immediately stirs up the “Love/
Hate” emotion. Forgiveness is at the song’s core,
intertwined with the desperate attempt to find it in
one’s heart after being so badly hurt.
Andy steps into the realm of heavy metal for “Wild
Things” and with the shift in genre comes a
dissertation on a subject rarely mentioned in
Christian hip hop. “Porn stars, dope dealers they like
‘Why you chill with them?’” Andy spits. His retort to
those who “want to be in earshot of the church bells”
and “say the wild things will eat you up” is that he
“walk[s] with the Paraclete.” The great secular/
spiritual divide has received a lot of attention over
the past year, but one subject typically left unspoken
is the call for the spiritual maturity of Christians. The
bible tells us to get off the milk and onto meat
(Hebrews 5:14), and one is wise to understand, like
Andy, that this is a slow and personal path.
“Uno Uno Seis” (featuring Lecrae) and “The
Saints” (featuring KB and Trip Lee) are Christian
anthems, speaking of the brotherhood of Christ. “Uno
Uno Seis” is reminiscent of eighties New York “Wild
Style” park parties – a feel-good track to tour with
that expresses the diversity of the church. Andy
comes with the slick flow “But you know we take it
international/ We finna follow anywhere the Master
go” and Lecrae absolutely kills it with bars like
“Might catch a plane to rep for my King Puerto Rico’s
on my checklist.”
Every hip hop album needs at least one song that
plays straight New York, and Heroes For Sale boasts
two. “AYO!” produced by J.R. is easily the album’s
most radio-ready track. Andy raps “From this life to
the one that’ll follow/Dudes gone vibrato at the
bottom of the bottle/Til they got their face twisted up
like Picasso/There’s another way to live!” By the end
of the track the beat has morphed into a bass heavy
intermission, sure to get hands up and side to side.
On “Cocky”, Andy enlists “DJs [to] treat [wack
rappers] like Mr. Miyagi and turn their wax off.” The
boom-bap track produced by Skrip has an echoing
vocal sample and a monotonous, Terminator-style
bass stab that indiscriminately leads to broken necks.
A shocking title at its core, Andy dispels ideas that
his confidence comes from something internal.
“Ya’ll know how to get it – encounters with the most
high. You don’t need to blow lah, come and get to
know Jah” – “Cocky”
The final trilogy of songs is an emotional roller
coaster – chains pulling from the low-blows of hurtful
words (“Still Bleeding”) and difficulties in
surrendering one’s “final god” (“Tug of War”) to the
insurmountable realization that one day Jesus will
one day “wipe every tear from our eyes” (“Death Has
Died”). On “Still Bleeding” we are given yet another
snapshot of a relationship that wounded Andy deeply.
Once again, it is unnecessary to know the
circumstances behind Andy’s situation – the pain is
felt, especially in the second verse where he digs deep
with bars like “It isn’t really what you said its what
you didn’t/ I left texts and voice mails you actin’ like
you missed ‘em.” A chilling track over cinematic
orchestration, Andy reminds us that one has the
power to kill with the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and
that “Every memory’s a portal to the past pain/And
most of the time its caused by somebody with your
last name.”
On the Heat Academy produced “Tug of War,” Andy
examines the faith-decision every Christian must
make between sin and salvation. In his first person
narrative, Andy finds redemption with lines like “You
have to change me in my sin, I’ll never choose him /
my heart needs to see something greater than what
I’m pursuin’” and “Sometimes I believe the lie that
God don’t provide for his child when they obey. That’s
so Crae(zy).” Krizz Kaliko, a rapper in Tech N9ne’s
stable of artists, sings the haunting and sobering
chorus “back and forth like a tug of war / cause I
been fighting for control / fighting for my soul / this
is war.” The ministry from an artist to artist
standpoint that may get overlooked, is that the
Strange Music artist has made songs expressing a
desire to want to believe and live for God and this
could begin the pouring into what Tech & Krizz have
longed for so many years.
To be honest, I was a little thrown off by the intimacy
of Hereos for Sale – Formerly Known was nowhere
near as dark and personal as this album. Andy’s
transparency in his storytelling sometimes makes it
feel as though we should be all be interceding for him.
Married people especially might find this album a
little unrelatable, but maybe the reason is that, like
Paul, Andy expresses in his singleness, a message
from God that is without worldly filter or social
etiquette. If we are all honest, the sin struggle that all
Christians carry can make us a little less-than-
empathetic to others. If we are truthful, we realize we
are no better than our brothers and sisters. We are all
in need of grace.
What did the album lack? Although well produced,
the production at times feels a bit forced or
overproduced. And as with most albums, there are a
couple of songs that could have been trimmed.
Regardless, Heroes For Sale is one of, if not the best
album released in 2013 so far.
Pre-order on iTunes
1. Superhuman – Prod. by Joseph Prielozny and
Dirty Rice
2. Ex Nihilo ft. Christon Gray – Prod. by J.R. for
So Hot Productions
3. AYO! – Prod. by J.R. for So Hot Productions
4. You Will – Prod. by Gawvi
5. The Saints ft. KB, Trip Lee – Prod. by GROC for
Beat Mekanickz
6. Caught Dreaming ft. for KING & COUNTRY –
Prod. by Jeremey S. H. Griffith, Andy Mineo and J.R.
for So Hot Productions
7. Bitter – Prod. by Alex Medina and D-Flow (The
8. Shallow ft. Swoope – Prod. by 808 & Elite
(Additional Prod. by Joseph Prielozny and Andy
9. Wild Things – Prod. by Tyshane, ThaInnaCircle &
Joseph Prielozny
10. Take Me Alive – Prod. by Tyshane
11. Uno Uno Seis ft. Lecrae – Prod. by Alex Medina
(Additional Prod. by Andy Mineo)
12. Cocky – Prod. by Skrip
13. Curious – Prod. by TheBridge and Heat Academy
14. Still Bleeding ft. Co Campbell – Prod. by Andy
Mineo and Chris Morgan (Additional Prod. by Joseph
15. Tug Of War ft. Krizz Kaliko – Prod. by Heat
16. Death Has Died – Prod. by J.R. for So Hot

I Am TholhuGospel