It’s tough being at the top. Whenever you’re at the top of anything, it seems as if there are just as many people out to get you as there are supporting you. It’s tough to tailor what you do to people’s expectations and still stay true to yourself. That’s why when you get to the top, you don’t stay very long.
Any hip-hop fan that is my age or older, can probably list 10 emcees (at least) that have been considered the best at some point in time. That’s because once you’ve reached the top, people expect better than you’ve already done. Good, even great, is no longer acceptable. Christian hip-hop is even harsher. Unlike the mainstream hip-hop, Christian hip-hop fans don’t handle change too much. So for the Christian emcee, it’s a balancing act between fans lofty expectations, personal growth and individual dreams, goals and standards. This seems like an impossible balance, but that’s what is waiting at the top.
I think it’s safe to say that Reach Records is at the top of CHH. As a label, they have accomplished everything a Christian label could ever hope to accomplish. Multiple #1 albums on iTunes, crossover success, mainstream publicity and a huge core fan base, just to name a few. They are starting to feel some of the downsides of being at the top, but that hasn’t seemed to slow down the Reach Records juggernaut. Andy Mineo’s debut record Heroes for Sale saw great success, the features never slowed down, Lecrae’s Church Clothes 2 is set to release this year and on September 10, Derek Minor releases his fourth studio project, Minorville.
Derek Minor is no stranger to success himself. Since signing to Reach, he released the chart topping Dying to Live and the critically acclaimed mixtape PSA Vol. 3. Over the past few years, Derek has shot to the top of CHH. As I mentioned earlier, being at the top has some drawbacks. One is anticipation. Minorville is a highly anticipated release. Because this record is so highly laden with expectations, it will be heavily scrutinized. All this means is that this record has to be one of his best outings. Is Minorville just that … Derek Minor’s best record?
Exactly What I Expected
I understand that this statement can sound negative, but a good portion of this record was exactly what I expected from Derek Minor. This isn’t meant to be negative though, because I was expecting great things. Derek has proven to be a great artist throughout his career. Much like everyone else, I was expecting to hear the things that I’ve come to love about Derek.
When I think of Derek Minor, the first thing that comes to my mind is passion. He constantly carries this passion for Christ in what he does. You would think that he couldn’t keep this up for an entire career, but that thought would be wrong. Minorville is full of the trademark passion and aggression that has set Derek Minor apart. Along with that, Derek brought great lyricism and production with him. If you are already a Derek Minor fan, then you will love Minorville just off of the strength of him continuing to do the things he’s known for doing great.
Minorville isn’t just about Derek doing the same things great though. He’s continued to refine his craft and become better with each record.
Two Things I Appreciated
Derek Minor has shown a little versatility here and there throughout his career. Minorville was a different story though. His versatility shined through this record more than ever before. It started with the opening track “Lost in Minroville,” where he tailored his flow and tone to match the soft production. It was a great way to start the album and also a great precursor for the versatility he would continue to show throughout the project.
Derek attacks the hard-hitting records just as good (if not better) than anyone in CHH. He also showed his ability to switch it up and ride the softer beats with the elegance that was needed. This isn’t all new for Derek Minor, but what stood out to me was the precision in which it was done on Minorville. The transitions were flawless, better than they’ve ever been. It all fit beautifully in the Minorville puzzle.
This is a quality that I value highly in an artist. It’s often unappreciated because when it’s done perfectly you don’t notice it. On Minorville, Derek Minor was the most consistent I’ve ever heard him. Every track bangs on this record. Not only is every track great, but they also flow well with each other. There is no let down at all. This makes the listening experience incredibly easy.
There was consistency in the overall album quality, but also in Derek’s individual performance. His flow was on point and he never missed a beat between the pace and tone changes. Just listening to Derek rap on this record was quite impressive. All in all, Derek has mastered this area. It’s shown his continued growth as an artist and the care he puts into his craft and each record he creates. Minorville benefited from that care greatly and it sounded like true art, because everything flowed beautifully together.
“Ready Set Go”
This song is everything I love about Derek Minor. Neck-snapping production and witty lyrics. It’s a track that you’ll bang over and over again.
This is everything a fan would want in a single. Catchy hook, clever theme, strong production and lyrical depth. I find myself singing this hook all day, and I don’t mind. Of every track on Minorville, “Gimmie” might just have the most playback value.
“Making Me More” feat. Mel Washington
Derek switched up the pace on this track and provided listeners with a lyrcial gem. Derek gives us all the depth we want and still stays true to himself. The production was solid and this song was a great addition to the overall picture Derek Minor was painting.
All of the hype and expectations for this record is understandable. Also, all of the praise and accolades this record will receive will be well deserved, because Minorville is truly a great record. From beginning to end, it was nearly flawless. My only real problem with Minorville was that there didn’t seem to be a concept. The lack of concept was overshadowed by the great music Derek made. This record didn’t need a concept to be great.
As great as it was, I’m reluctant to call it a classic, but I will say that this is Derek Minor’s best record. It had all the makings of a great record. It possessed playback value, outstanding lyricism and production, and great overall quality. Whatever areas Derek lacked in previous records, he improved with Minorville. This far into his career, Derek is improving and getting better, which means that this may not be the last time Derek Minor puts out his best album.