There’s no doubt that Andy Mineo is blazing hot right now. From his appearances on MTV, touring on the annual Road Show Tour, and most recently being interviewed on Sway In The Morning. Andy has been all over the place.
However, despite the places and platforms that he’s been able to reach, it hasn’t been all glitz and glam. He has faced quite a bit of criticism for some of the things he’s said, along with some of the art he has put out on his latest EP Never Land.
He believes that art is supposed to have some ambiguity so that there is room for interpretation. I like that. It makes the listener have to take a step back and say, “What does this truly mean?”
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and my goal is not to sway you one way or the other. However, I do believe that this album goes hand in hand with the latest season of Saturday Morning Car-Tunez. I felt that it truly helped me (and probably many of his fans) interpret the “art” on this project.
In this review, I want to share my experience.
As I stated before, Saturday Morning Car-Tunez helped me have a greater appreciation for the production on this EP. I loved hearing some of the stories behind the songs and looking for them on the actual song. For example, on the second episode of season 2’s Saturday Morning Car-Tunez, we learn that Paganini was an amazing violinist that would play so well and fast that people would think that he was possessed by the devil. In the song on the EP, you can hear violin chords within the beat and each rapper rapped really fast, to mimic what Paganini did. Those little details are important and enhance the listening experience.
Andy Mineo was able to get amazing producers (J.R., Alex Medina, Gawvi, Joseph Prielozny, Ray “Rock” Castro, Dre “The Giant” Garcia) to join him, so I expected great production. My expectations were met for the most part but I would like to share another moment that I appreciated. The song “Death Of Me” is kind of a dark song, expressing the fears of success and all the trials that come with it. I loved the production on this song because it starts off almost as if you are at a funeral service. The complete feel of this song made the content that much stronger and really pulls the listener in to the story being told.
Andy does well when he’s sharing his heart with his fans. I think throughout this EP, we get to hear a lot about where he is at. On the title track “Never Land,” Andy shares his perspective about how he wants to create music that is not just for the church and that he wants his music to be good because he is a Christian. It felt like he was saying he wants to be excellent so that he can catch the ears of new listeners and point them to the Giver of the gifts he has. I thought this was a good first track because it explained where his head was.
He also let us in on his love life on “All We Got.” He shares his struggles about having a girlfriend and not moving too fast. I appreciated the honesty on this track because you could hear that some of his reservations were due to his past hurts. Many can relate to being fearful due to damaging situations. He does a good job sharing that he refuses to be paralyzed by that fear by one simple phrase: “You live different when you know you’ve been forgiven.” I think listeners will be encouraged by that portion of the song (unless you were one of his 50,000 female fans expecting to be his wife).
As much as I appreciated most of the content on this project, I must admit that I had to re-train my ears. I’m sure you are wondering what I mean by that. Basically, a lot of the new Christian hip hop from Reach Records has been about life from a Christian worldview. I do not have a problem with this but it changes the listening experience.
On Never Land, the listener can easily walk away thinking, “well I know a lot about Andy, but not much about Jesus.” This may sound extreme, and it is, to an extent. Rapping from a biblical worldview does sound different. Although we hear a lot more of Andy’s life, we also hear about how he finds hope and where he runs to when life hits. This doesn’t exactly explain all of Jesus to the listener, but it does tell the listener how dependent Andy is on Jesus. So for the person looking to learn the Bible, this is not the project for you. However, this style does help people who wonder how to handle a real world, real life, and real emotions as a Christian.
Andy usually does a good job sticking to a concept, but I do feel that this project fell short conceptually. The first song and the album art seemed to the be only things that truly fit under the scope of what he said he was trying to convey. On the first episode of Saturday Morning Car-Tunez he said that the title was two-fold. Never Land in reference to Peter Pan, and Never Land as we will never “make it” in Christ. We will never “arrive” in this life.
He made a reference to the story of Peter Pan on the title track but after that, I did not hear any mentions of it on the project. I think he could have ran a little further with it but he chose not to.
I also liked the idea of us “never landing” in Christ, but he often talked about gaining more success and executing well with his art. I do not think his aim is to “make it,” or should I say “land,” but the messages in the songs did not communicate that original vision.
“Pasiano’s Wylin” was a playful song that really didn’t make much sense other than the fact that he and Marty Mar were being goofy and they are both Italian.
In terms of the concept, I think it was a disappointment, because Andy seems to be so conscious of his art and is intentional with the things he does. I did not see that same intentionality within the context of how this project turned out conceptually.
Despite my opinion on the concept of the project, Never Land is a fun project and I think that people will enjoy some songs on it. There are moments where it’s more serious and then there are others that are completely goofy. I will say that you could hear his growth on this project. Andy sounded more sure of himself and his flow was more polished. Songs like “Never Land” and “You Can’t Stop Me” showed off how polished his cadence is.
This is a 7-track EP and he told Wade-O Radio that he recorded 21 songs. I wish he would have given us a little bit more. There were good songs, but I felt like each song was not a hit. The replay value may not be as high for some as it is for others. It really depends on what you come to this project looking for. I would like to agree with Andy again and say, this can be a great project if you allow the music to be up for interpretation and inspiration.