Andy Mineo isn’t Batman, Lecrae isn’t Superman and Sho Baraka isn’t Spider-Man, but the manner in which some Christian hip-hop fans exalt the rappers would lead one to believe otherwise.
“We buy into the idea of people or things being heroes—that they rescue us, that they save us, that they’ll swoop us up—and I think often we buy into that idea when we exalt people or things to a place that they shouldn’t be,” Mineo told Wade-O Radio on why he titled his debut album “Heroes For Sale.”
The Reach Records artist claimed that Christian rappers have been put on a pedestal for so long that some fans now look at them like they’re superheroes. Mineo stressed that he and his fellow artists are undeserving of such acclaim, attempting to deliver that message through transparency and vulnerability heard on tracks such as “Bitter,” “Shallow” and “Still Bleeding.”
His warning resonates in an era in which the Christian hip-hop subgenre has been buzzing with controversy over artists changing the direction of their music.
Lecrae’s motives have been put under a microscope since “Church Clothes.” Most recently, hip-hop artist Tha Kidd Jopp wrote a letter to Lecrae via song, KJ-52-to-Eminem style. This Jan., Sho felt the same heat when, after “Jim Crow” shook the subgenre, listeners questioned his Christianity, marriage and accused him of being Illuminati.
Mineo explained why Lecrae and Sho have been under such fire.
“Us as the artists have turned into pastors for our listeners,” said Mineo. “They look to us for all the answers because our music has been so answer driven.”
He added that a decade of rappers telling their audience what and what not to do has created a culture in which anything but preaching through music has become unacceptable. Hip-hop artists have practically become heroic characters immune to sin. As a result, transparent, vulnerable music without the gospel—even through a Christian lens—triggers reactions of “What the heck are you doing? You’re falling off. You don’t love Jesus anymore. You’re ashamed of the gospel,” said Mineo.
Those reactions of bafflement are over theological misunderstandings—whether or not an artist must share the gospel through music, an issue Flame addressed in “#1 Spot.” The current rift in Christian hip-hop is nothing compared to the peak potential of human idolization gone wrong.
In 2011, America watched in horror as Penn State fired Happy Valley’s superhero, Joe Paterno, for his role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Allegations of JoePa turning a blind eye to sexually abused children—whether true or not—knocked the wind out of the nation with a reality check: idolizing flawed humans is a foolish blunder.
“I’m not a superhero, don’t look at us like that,” said Andy Mineo. “The grace that I talk about on my record that other people need is the same grace that I need.”
The 116 Clique member called for conversations, songs and blogs to address the subgenre’s superhero dilemma. He admitted that those in opposition of Lecrae, Sho and Mineo’s direction won’t understand their movement overnight, but patience from both sides is necessary.
“The bad thing that can happen is that we can end up saying this: ‘Oh you guys just don’t get it? Whatever. Forget you. Mature. Grow up. We’re out of here,’” said Mineo. “I think we have to fully walk with people through it.”
Andy Mineo began walking on “Heroes For Sale.”