Derek Minor predicts more honesty in his fourth studio album, “Minorville.”
He introduced the concept and inspiration of his upcoming project in an interview with Wade-O Radio. Minor also previewed this honesty, addressing the open letters written to his Reach Records label mate, Lecrae.
Minor has worked 15-hour days, traveling between Atlanta and Nashville, to finish “Minorville.” He expects the album to be released between August and October this year and it to be his “realest” record to date.
The creation of the album is taking Minor longer than usual because he’s shouldered more of the production workload than he has in the past. Instead of gathering beats from double digit producers, he, Dirty Rice, Joseph Prielozny and Heat Academy have handled the majority of the production to generate a more-cohesive record. Its concept: to familiarize listeners with his world.
“’Minorville’ is an imaginary city that I’ve created,” Minor told Wade-O Radio.
He explained that everyone lives in their own little world, (insert your name)ville.
“I want to just bring you into my world,” said Minor. “This album is really just my opinions on things, what’s important to me, how God has affected my life and hopefully through that, you’ll be able to hear my testimony.”
Minor hopes to encourage, challenge and inform his listeners. When the final track on “Minorville” ends, he also wants them to feel like they’ve been on a journey, that he’s just guided them on a tour of his city.
“I’m going to make music like I made it before I knew there was even a Christian hip-hop industry,” said Minor, who identified his brand as keeping it real with pure, unadulterated music.
Minor admitted he felt obligated in the past to write, as Wade-O Radio’s Branden Murphy has put it, “Reach anthems,” but Minor stressed that none of the pressure came from the label itself. He claimed that out of all the labels he’s communicated with, Reach is arguably the best in providing artists with an immense degree of creative control. Since his injury, the temptation to be somebody he wasn’t due to another’s success has subsided.
“Last year and after I tore my Achilles, I sat and thought, ‘What do I want my legacy to be? Do I want it to be the crocus Christian rapper and the dude who makes you jump around and have fun?” asked Minor.
He added that he enjoys watching listeners get hyped to his music, but that isn’t what Minor wanted to be remembered for.
“That was really the whole change for Derek Minor,” he said. “I got a chance to think.”
During his time on the sideline, Minor determined that he wanted something different. Hence the name change and more-frequent pure, unadulterated music.
Flame had the entire Christian hip-hop sub-genre talking in March with his song “# 1 Spot,” which he admitted to Wade-O Radio was motivated by a movement that Lecrae had supposedly inspired. ThaKiddJopp was more direct, releasing the track “My Letter to Lecrae” earlier this month.
No one between Atlanta and Nashville will hear Minor blasting either song with his windows down.
“I feel like there should be less open letters and more private conversation,” said Minor.
He said that he’s had a productive conversation with Flame about “#1 Spot.” While Minor doesn’t agree with Flame’s methodology, Minor said that he knows Flame loves the Lord.
The Reflection Music Group artist isn’t nearly as familiar with ThaKiddJopp.
“I don’t know [ThaKiddJopp],” said Minor. “I can’t judge his motives, but first you put out a letter to Lecrae, then you put out a letter to Lecrae’s fans [“Letter to Lecrae Fans”]. Next are you going to put out a letter to Lecrae’s uncle? Then are you going to put out a letter to Lecrae’s dog?”
Minor didn’t want to assume ThaKiddJopp wrote the song solely for attention, but Minor asked why he felt the need to write a song about his issues with Lecrae as opposed to a blog post or actually contacting him.
“Nowadays, Lecrae is everybody’s whipping board,” said Minor. “He never fights back so people can throw rocks at him and they can hurt him.”
Lecrae promised on the song “I Know” that he isn’t fazed by his critics, but Minor said all artists are affected by what they hear to a certain extent because they’re human beings.
Minor’s message: leave Lecrae alone.
“I’m tired of everybody every week coming out with a blog about what Lecrae is doing and what he isn’t doing,” said Minor. “If he’s not doing something right, how about you fill that space and do it right. It’s easy to talk about somebody’s creation when you’re not creating. If your whole brand is built around you tearing somebody else’s down, that’s a sad thing and I don’t really think you really have a brand at all, but you’re just a nitpicker.”
Minor called Lecrae his brother and attested to how Lecrae has been by his side at some of the most broken parts of his life. Minor admitted that seeing skeptics “assassinate [Lecrae’s] character” after “seven years of solid service toward the Lord” over a change in his methodology discouraged him.
While Minor is discouraged by the heat the man who helped him mature has taken, he’s even more troubled by another aspect of that heat’s damage.
“You guys are wasting so much time nitpicking on things that don’t even matter when you could actually be out changing the world, but you’d rather judge somebody else’s motives,” said Minor. “If we spent less time bickering with one another and more time united, pushing toward a goal, we probably could push the gospel way further than we’ve been pushing it. But now [critics] look at Lecrae and say, ‘I want to vicariously push the gospel through you rather than go out and push it myself.’”
Minor revealed the weakness of what has become the Open Letter-era in hip hop: one song isn’t long enough to deliver a complex message.
“These issues that we’re dealing with are much bigger than saying ‘Hey, [you’re] not being as explicit in [your] music,’” said Minor. “They’re worldview issues, and I can’t help your worldview totally with three 16-bar verses.”
He called for those worldview issues to be addressed in curriculum, blog posts, public speaking and round table discussions. Visions which artists are trying to communicate would become clearer through more talking and less rapping.
“When you try to condense all of that information down to three 16’s, regardless of your intentions and how you want to approach things, it winds up coming off as a diss track because you have to cut off critical pieces,” said Minor.
The artist formerly known as PRo said there will be no open letters in “Minorville.”