Andy Mineo Discusses ‘Never Land’ EP, Christian Rap Label & Dolly Parton’s Swag [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Andy Mineo is making some noise — and that’s pretty literally. On the release day for his new EP, ‘Never Land,’ the rapper spoke to The Boombox while inside a barber shop in New York’s Washington Heights. The side chatter and the buzzing razors in the background couldn’t hide the 25-year-old’s enthusiasm, which was apparent within seconds of talking to him.
His eagerness is understandable since he has been making noise in a more figurative sense. Mineo’s ‘Never Land’ EP landed at No. 2 on iTunes and No. 1 on iTunes’ Hip Hop/Rap chart when it hit the marketplace on Tuesday (Jan. 28), and he knows a lot of his success lies within his large and dedicated fan base. It’s a solid continuation of the buzz he achieved with last year’s ‘Heroes for Sale’ LP, which debuted at No. 4 on Billboard’s Rap Albums chart.
Mineo’s key to success isn’t that much of a secret, either. Although he’s confident in the sonic quality on his new project, the Christian artist will constantly stress that his honesty and vulnerabilities have helped him garner a loyal following. Find out more about how he connects with his audience, his feelings on the Christian rap label and how Robin Williams fits into the conversation.
The BoomBox: How does it feel to finally have the EP out?
Andy Mineo: It feels great man. A lot of hard work went into it. It’s really dope to see it come out and hit No. 1 on iTunes without any radio play, radio push. Without any big budget, for it to be what it’s doing right now on the charts is a testament to how dope my fans are and how much they support the music and the movement.
We spent about 10 days on it — five days in New York City, five days in Atlanta. We documented the whole thing at andymineo.com, so you can watch all the episodes of us working in the studio to make this album. It took about 10 days to make the music, then after that I spent a few days working on rhymes, getting the features in and work on stuff. It was done within a month’s time.
You said in a recent interview that a lot of Christian rap has been corny. What is it about your music that doesn’t fit under that label?
I don’t really speak for anybody else’s music and I don’t think I should, but I think the reason why people enjoy my music is because there’s a level of honesty and transparency that people can connect and relate to. And there’s also a sense of hope that people find in my music that people gravitate toward. In addition to it, I think there’s a lot of effort and energy put into the details to make sure every project is excellent from top to bottom.
The album artwork also caught my eye. What influenced the artwork?
Captain Hook, man. ‘Hook’ was one of my favorite movies when I was growing up, so we played with that theme on the title ‘Never Land.’ We sort of just played with the imagery, too.
Yeah, they always used to play that movie on Channel 7 WABC New York.
Yeah, it was one of my favorites, man.
How do you feel you differ musically in comparison to other upcoming New York artists like Bodega Bamz and Chinx Drugz?
I don’t know. I couldn’t really speak to those guys’ music. All I know is what I think separates my music from everything that’s out right now is the hope that’s found in it. I think a lot of people are making music that shares their life experiences, and that’s what I choose to do too, but in my life experience I also choose to try to find the hope in the music, and I think a lot of it has to do with my Christian faith. It’s where I ultimately find solace and hope.
Do you feel like the Christian rap label alienates some fans?
Well, I think labels are something that people use to help simplify artists. I don’t know. I think the label can be limiting, because it inhibits some people from giving it a fair chance to listen. But at the end of the day, I’m not going to label myself. If people want to label me something, that’s their choice, their opinion. But I just say, whatever you call the music, just be honest about it. If it’s hot, it’s hot.
Is there one song from the EP that you feel will really resonate with listeners over the others?
I think songs like ‘All We Got,’ where I get personal about relationships and about where I’m at with my life. I think when I show my vulnerability, people relate with that because they know deep down inside that they have vulnerable moments and they can really connect and identify with me on those things.
Same thing with ‘Death of Me.’ It’s me sharing my struggles and my failures. It’s me just relating the struggles and failures. People just relate to struggles and failures because we all face them. People are way more likely to identify with my failures than my successes.
Because you don’t want to alienate fans by feigning invulnerability, right?
Is there any rap artist you’re checking for right now?
Since I’ve been [at work] with ‘Never Land’ I haven’t been able to pay too much attention, but there’s this new guy: Isaiah Rashad. I heard he’s making some noise. I haven’t really had a chance to check him out yet, but there’s lots of dudes. I’m always studying music. I’m always studying hip-hop to see what’s happening and what’s coming out, because I’m involved in the culture. I love the music and I love the people.
What’s your all-time favorite rap album?
If you can collaborate with any artist in any genre, who would it be?
Dolly Parton. Her swag is incredible.
When’s the full-length album coming out?
There’s no release date, but we’re aiming for the end of the year or early next year.