...to be widely known is to be widely misunderstood, and that's part of it...
Press into discomfort
From the album's title track, Mineo recites the line "Comfort is a thing that'll make a King fall" and expounds on it by saying: "I think being uncomfortable is a thing nobody really enjoys. Everybody kind of uses that phrase 'I just want to live a comfortable life', but the times when we're uncomfortable are the times when we're being challenged to grow, change and to evolve as people." Mineo is doing just that as he steps not only into greater artistry but even a new role as a soon to be husband.
Things won't always be comfortable, but when you press into those things, you make the most of them!
Mineo want people to understand that 'uncomfortable situations or places in life are not necessarily a bad thing'. Press into discomfort and realize that comfort causes people to really lose touch with the things that are important. In February, Mineo caught heat for his series of questions about Christians and the use of profanity. Mineo found himself the subject of major media backlash but states that his question was spurred on by Kanye West's assertion that his new album "The Life of Pablo" was a gospel album. Kirk Franklin's presence on "Ultra Light Beams" was indicative that West was at least willing have a conversation about faith, but the album in large is not received as gospel in any sense.
For his part. the root of the controversy was in fact confusion. Mineo asked whether or not an artist can use curse words and still be considered a Christian. "People swear, people smoke, people drink and they're still Christian but they're just in their journey...everyone's on their own faith journey. Everyone's changing, everyone's changing, growing and evolving over time. I was trying to provoke people to think a little more deeply about how they perceive people on their journey and to be gracious with them and not to write them off."
Mineo is speaking from experience and calls his current season of life one of discomfort. Namely, the huge step of becoming a husband has been the most challenging. Mineo said of it: "it called for sacrifice, change and hardship to learn what it is to be a husband and to learn and grow into being a man in that way."
He's embraced each step of the journey though admitting: "these uncomfortable moments in life that make you a better person, you press into them and you allow them to shape you! No doubt Mineo's new outlook and perspective will impact forthcoming music and projects.
You grow to be the person you're meant to be...
Stretched beyond his musical comfort level
Breaking beyond boxes and labels necessitated an overall attitude and different outlook for Mineo. He employed this phrase: "A lot of times, the things that you've got to do aren't the things that you want to do!" On the Uncomfortable album, Mineo stretched out, further than he already has, working with Illmind (Kanye, Drake, J-Cole) and going deliberately in a different creative direction than before.
"We really tried to go in a different direction I'd typically be going in the past. Very anthemic music, we had a lot of fun. We tried some new things and we broke some song structures. We just had a fun time creating this project."
The album asks listeners to confront many issues prevalent in society today. One of the issues the Reach Records rapper tackles on the lead single, “Uncomfortable,” was judgment against the gay community by those who claim to be religious.
“I apologize for Christians holding up pickets saying ‘God Hates Fags’ / I promise Jesus wouldn’t act like that,” he raps.
Mineo details the internal battle he had at writing this line and including such potentially offensive language.
“I was really wrestling with whether or not to even use that word in the record because it’s derogatory,” he says. “I didn’t even want to say it, but I thought, I was really wrestling with it. So actually, a couple of my friends who are gay, I gave them a phone call, and I talked with them and I said, ‘Yo, I wanna share with you that I’m writing. What’s your perspective on it?’ And what I got from the community of people that I know who are gay, they said, ‘No, actually, I appreciate you saying that because you are recognizing kind of the injustice that’s done towards us, the hypercritical, anti-loving picketing that’s happening to us and you’re speaking out about it.'”
The use of the term breaks away from the norm of refraining from using objectionable language in the Christian Hip Hop subgenre that Mineo is often placed in. But the rapper found confidence in his purpose to challenge people.
“That was helpful in the process because that’s actually what was written on picket signs as we’ve seen in news clips,” he says. “It was a creative tension, but I thought in context of the album, in context of what was being said and in context of that song being called ‘Uncomfortable,’ I thought artistically I had space to do that because I was using it to empower people as opposed to strip them of dignity. That’s my intention. People can take that whatever way they want, but at the core, I don’t mean to offend anybody with that except the people that need to be offended by it which are bigoting, judgemental jerks.”
Mineo sees his faith as something more than a label and hopes that this project will show that Christianity not so clear-cut. He hopes that listeners will engage with the topics that he has presented in the album and learn to make their own decisions about their beliefs.
“Not everything in life is black and white and I think Christianity, or cultural Christianity I should say, tries to make things very black and white things that aren’t black and white,” he says. “We try to make things black and white because it’s easier than actually wrestling through the tension of both realities. That’s what I want people to do is I want them to wrestle through the tension. I want them to think critically. I don’t want them to just subscribe to cultural Christian values that aren’t even Biblical. I want people to think through tough topics and ask hard questions and build relationships and actually be shaped by the difficult conversations as opposed to running from them.”
Stream The Full Album Here!
While having having those difficult conversations with himself, Mineo also ran into difficulty finding consistency for the album. He met !llmind through his friend Emilio Rojas and ran into the producer multiple times before asking !llmind to executively produce the album.
“I showed him my album, where it was a few months back and it was kind of all over the place,” Mineo says. “So I asked if he’d be a part of the executive producing process, which would be help me streamline the album, help create a cohesive sound for it. He agreed and he jumped onboard. We scrapped some songs. We added some songs with his production on it and we really just creating a really dope chemistry.”
Mineo says that !llmind wasn’t able to contribute as much as he had hoped because he was also busy with human., a collaboration project with Joell Ortiz, but the Mineo is hoping to continue working with the producer.
One of the technical aspects of Uncomfortable that Mineo was proud of was how he allowed his love for psychedelic rock to influence his song structure.
“Psychedelic rock records would typically be like seven minutes long and just have different sections,” he explains. “There was no like formula. Formulas were caused by radio stations trying to shrink those seven minute songs into two and a half minute songs so that they could fit more advertising in. So I was like, ‘Yo, why have I thought that songs should be two minutes long and have a verse-bridge-verse-bridge, that structure? Verse-chorus.’ I was like, ‘Dang, you know what? I’m just gonna make music that’s very sectiony.’ So if you listen to this album, it’s just sections all over the place. There’s no structure and that’s that psychedelic rock influence.”
“Strange Motions” is the most obvious nod to the genre.
“I made that record because I was trying to make a song about addiction,” he says. “I had a music video, actually, a visual first, so I just created the song the way that I saw the visual, so hopefully that music video and that visual will be coming out soon.”
Mineo’s messages have weight to them, and throughout the work these heavy points are served up on a cloud. Over the next several beautifully composed pieces, a theme begins to develop which ultimately proves to be the project’s crown: Uncomfortable is accommodating in that it sounds like it came from one mind despite many collaborators. With help from Mali Music, “Desperados” does an excellent job of adding a distinct flavor to a relatively homogenous genre while never reaching so far as to seem misguided. There is a coherent direction with and between every song, and while that direction is obviously “up” given the context and subject matter, it is not without difficulty that cohesion is created on a full-length album. Some of this fluidity can be attributed to the consistently smooth production from the likes of Alex Medina and 42* North, the duo responsible for the album’s lead single “Hear My Heart,” where Mineo reveals his most authentic self, rapping harmoniously on immaturity and love for his sister; simply tackling such awkward subject matter on a song designed for radio is a feat worthy of praise. Following a brief interlude that asks some source, in Spanish: “Prepare me for war, because comfort is the fall of kings,” the energy begins to fade. Right in the middle of the mix, “Rat Race” presents itself as the overly soft, marshmallowy center of the album, and is where Uncomfortable begins to feel as such. The foundation of the entire project begins to collapse under the weight of its own message and becomes over encumbered with concepts that are approached far too cautiously when, given Mineo’s proclaimed fervor, should be addressed head on. It is unlucky that Uncomfortable’s weakest link would be situated at the eye of the storm. Leaving out this unstable fusion of triumph-pop and gospel would have lightened the burden, and what follows does little to change the situation. “Know That’s Right” is nearly completely indistinguishable from an old Drake tune aside from the absence of “niggas,” “bitches,” and references to his own version of heaven as, shrouded by a Phantom, he rolls up to the pearly gates of The 6. Sonically, this creates a feeling of limitation. Like when a baby is strapped into her car seat trying to grab some really tasty looking coins but they’re just a few centimeters out of reach. You can see the pain in her face, and you can hear something similar here. There is much to be said about the shibboleth of artists who create their work unconstrained and separated from outdated notions of puritanical morality. Even though constructed on a boringly ordinary motif, Mineo’s fans will of course appreciate the deviation from the radio standard, but for listeners who have yet to march onto the ark in twos, cheap and easy songs like this might make them prematurely abandon ship.
And suddenly in a ray of light, resurrection takes place on the standout “Ghost”, in which Mineo takes on a tone that is more Nipsey Hussle than late, struggling Britney Spears heard on the previous “Vendetta.” a noticeably lazy pop song that makes lofty claims about social issues while not beginning to attempt to provide concrete solutions. Though just as the lamb himself died and rose again only to disappear into the heavens, we quickly fall back into sounds and psalms all too familiar from those found earlier on the album. The subsequent songs offer small glimpses of some of the experimentation that was possible, though end up being no more than tantalizing teases into what he is truly capable of as an artist. Here we can reflect on the several missed opportunities for unconventionalism and expansion, one of the stratagems that maneuvered LeCrae’s Gravity to its conquest of the Best Gospel Album award at the 2013 Grammy’s, which featured vocals from Mineo. When innovation is lacking, cohesiveness can rapidly transform into repetitiveness. Then after what feels like a short forty minutes, we arrive at the light at the end of the tunnel. On “Make Me a Believer,” it is unclear whether Mineo is talking to God or to an exceptionally loyal girlfriend. This ambiguity is refreshing in evangelistic music; it is a plea rather than a preach – an invitation rather than a thump. Veteran rocker Mac Powell of Third Day rises up to contribute a thundering hook, roaring over another anthemic pop song that unfortunately feels like the easy way out. In spite of this, Powell’s vocals are delivered in such a compelling way that if you were on the fence about whether or not to drink the blood of Christ, this track might convince the especially vulnerable to pour up. A fitting end. Now with his stance further solidified, fans would do well to expect the absolute most of this zealot on his upcoming tour. They should hope to see him living in the image of his savior, washing the feet of the homeless and directly feeding the hungry with thine own hands, acts that will bestow unto him much needed credibility in an age of pray-for-pay pastors and musical acts run rampant. Mineo’s manifestation of destiny could place him in political office: a smart, artistic man with a friendly face who seems to care about the wellbeing of all people would do well in today’s cultural climate. Alas, the prospect of any individual in a position of leadership whose personal dogma might, for example, lead to the abolition of crucial social welfare institutions such as Planned Parenthood, anything but fanfare for live-saving medical cannabis research, or faith-driven laws that censor freedom of expression has already proven to be a dangerous premise for American society and the world at large. Read More Here