One mixtape, one EP, and two albums into his career with Reach Records it’s safe to say Andy Mineo is the hottest artist in our scene today. Andy’s rise in both Christian Hip Hip and mainstream circles can only be compared to label-mate Lecrae’s career. The difference? We’re currently sitting at about 4,200 days (11 years) since fans first heard Lecrae’s debut Real Talk, while Andy’s Formerly Known dropped about 1,500 days (4 years) ago.
Building on the hype for his new album Uncomfortable, Andy recently set out on the nationwide Uncomfortable Tour featuring Propaganda and SPZRKT. We caught up with the tour about halfway through the scheduled 25 dates (with additional dates in the Spring) in Chicago, IL.
I love Chicago, and I now love The House of Blues. With a sold out crowd of about 1,300 people spread between the main floor and 3 balconies, it was the largest crowd of Christian Hip Hip fans I have ever experienced. Beyond the impressive number of fans, the venue is stunning:
Andy told me after the show, that working with LiveNation to put on the tour opened up incredible venues like the House of Blues. It’s the “new normal” as Christian Hip Hop grows, and as much as I enjoy church basement shows, this is a welcome change to the scene.
Humble Beast artist/poet Propaganda and SPZRKT are the opening acts for the entire Uncomfortable Tour. Both artists have a strong following around the country, and this was evident in Chicago.
SPZRKT, a late addition to the crew, set off the night and killed it. Performing newer records “Blind Man,” “The Motive,” “JMK” and “How Do You Love Me” he made an impression on everyone in the room. Sango’s beats are perfectly suited for live sets, and my Lord this boy can sing. One of my favorite feelings in the world is seeing an artist live for the first time and finding out that they are actually that good at singing. I experienced this during SPZRKT’s set. Fans appreciated his commentary in between records, talking about a Christian’s need to persevere in the search for purpose on earth.
Propaganda followed SPZRKT, performing a number of songs off his previous album Crimson Cord. Some fans may have seen him perform these tracks before, but the depth and timeliness of Prop’s records allow him to speak into current events and challenge listener’s thought process unlike any other artist. I left with new perspectives on things going on in the world because of his commentary throughout the set. One missing piece was Prop’s new book I Am Becoming. I expected him to introduce the book and perform a piece, but it was not mentioned during the show.
World Vision & Intermission
After Prop performed “3 Cord Bond” Andy’s face appeared on the screen to talk about one of the tour’s sponsors, World Vision. He shared the story of starting to sponsor a child through World Vision, and how that conviction has continued throughout his life. Andy’s wife followed up the video with a live explanation of World Vision’s mission and offered concert attendees the opportunity to learn about sponsoring a child that night. What an incredible use of a tour sponsor! I gained new respect for the Mineo’s after seeing this strategic use of their platform for the Kingdom of God.
A 20-ish minute intermission took place before we dove into Andy’s set. I’ve never attended a Christian Hip Hop concert with an intermission, but it was a good opportunity to connect with friends without the craziness of trying to move around before and after the show.
I don’t want to give too much description of Andy’s set and spoil your experience, but I will say it was incredible. Andy continued to prove why he is the best performer in Christian Hip Hop.
Andy started off the set with popular records from the album. By my count, he performed 10 of the 13 songs on the project. I appreciate when artists perform the majority of a project on it’s namesake tour instead of leaping for popular singles off past projects. And don’t worry … he managed to get your favorite Never Land and Heroes For Sale records in before the night was over.
The entire set was complemented by enormous video boards that showed everything from old school video games to footage from the Mineo’s wedding day. I might forever be disappointed by shows without this visual aspect, because it added a great layer to the set. In some songs it added context to the lines, and in others it simply offered cool visual effects. Shout out to Dre the Giant (I believe he cued tracks and the video). A few of the videos were beautifully synced with specific lyrics during songs, creating a seamless visual presentation of the album.
Another interesting feature during the set was narration by Propaganda. About 3-4 times during the set, Prop appeared on the stage to perform a piece of poetry relating to the Uncomfortable concept. It added depth to the show and pushed me to a deeper understanding of what Andy wanted to convey through this piece of art. Expect more artists to incorporate this narration in their shows after experiencing the Uncomfortable Tour.
In conclusion … Andy shut the House of Blues down.
DO NOT miss the Uncomfortable Tour (and bring a friend!). All three artists clearly articulated the Gospel, and showed it’s practical implications in life through the World Vision sponsorship. Beyond that, the performances (particularly Andy’s) were pure gold in every aspect.
Head over to AndyMineo.com/tour to pick up tickets, and stay tuned for the Spring leg of the tour!