Andy Mineo says that he turned to a renown saying for the direction of his sophomore album, Uncomfortable, which was released yesterday (September 18).
“I was inspired by a quote that says, ‘Good art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable,'” the New York rapper says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “That really stuck with me as I thought about what do I want to bring to the roundtable of Hip Hop? I wanna bring meaningful discussion and meaningful conversations for people and I think pressing into some of the more uncomfortable topics is gonna help bring about change, especially with everything that’s happening in our country right now.”
Uncomfortable includes personal anecdotes of how his beliefs about relationships and faith have evolved. On “Now I Know,” for instance, Mineo reflects on how he gained knowledge about various topics in life, including Santa Claus, women, racism and Jesus.
“I went to college and I was a Jewish studies minor,” the City College of New York graduate says. “Just studying the Middle East and studying Jesus, I’m like, ‘Yo, how the heck did we get all these paintings of a blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus?’ It’s just like you start to look through the history of most of the Western world and you see it’s just been conquered by White people bringing their ideas to the West and while doing so, whitewashing a lot of our history because they wanted to ascribe Anglican Whites to everything. I’ve been lied to.
“You grow up and you see things and you think that’s just the way that they are,” he continues. “Then you dig a little deeper, you do a little research, you find out things aren’t always the way that they seem. That’s why in that record, ‘Now I Know,’ I talk about over the course of my life, the way that I’ve seen things has changed and evolved. That’s the message I wanna say is like, ‘Yo, think critically about what you believe. Maybe what you believe isn’t even true and you never took the time to actually sit and think about why you believe what you believe, you just accepted it. So by me sharing all those stories in that record, it kind of, I hope that would create that curiosity in other people to do the same thing.”
Andy Mineo Asks People To Challenge Their Beliefs Through “Uncomfortable”
The album asks listeners to confront many issues prevalent in society today. One of the issues the Reach Records rapper tackles on the lead single, “Uncomfortable,” was judgment against the gay community by those who claim to be religious.
“I apologize for Christians holding up pickets saying ‘God Hates Fags’ / I promise Jesus wouldn’t act like that,” he raps.
Mineo details the internal battle he had at writing this line and including such potentially offensive language.
“I was really wrestling with whether or not to even use that word in the record because it’s derogatory,” he says. “I didn’t even want to say it, but I thought, I was really wrestling with it. So actually, a couple of my friends who are gay, I gave them a phone call, and I talked with them and I said, ‘Yo, I wanna share with you that I’m writing. What’s your perspective on it?’ And what I got from the community of people that I know who are gay, they said, ‘No, actually, I appreciate you saying that because you are recognizing kind of the injustice that’s done towards us, the hypercritical, anti-loving picketing that’s happening to us and you’re speaking out about it.'”
The use of the term breaks away from the norm of refraining from using objectionable language in the Christian Hip Hop subgenre that Mineo is often placed in. But the rapper found confidence in his purpose to challenge people.
“That was helpful in the process because that’s actually what was written on picket signs as we’ve seen in news clips,” he says. “It was a creative tension, but I thought in context of the album, in context of what was being said and in context of that song being called ‘Uncomfortable,’ I thought artistically I had space to do that because I was using it to empower people as opposed to strip them of dignity. That’s my intention. People can take that whatever way they want, but at the core, I don’t mean to offend anybody with that except the people that need to be offended by it which are bigoting, judgemental jerks.”
Mineo sees his faith as something more than a label and hopes that this project will show that Christianity not so clear-cut. He hopes that listeners will engage with the topics that he has presented in the album and learn to make their own decisions about their beliefs.
“Not everything in life is black and white and I think Christianity, or cultural Christianity I should say, tries to make things very black and white things that aren’t black and white,” he says. “We try to make things black and white because it’s easier than actually wrestling through the tension of both realities. That’s what I want people to do is I want them to wrestle through the tension. I want them to think critically. I don’t want them to just subscribe to cultural Christian values that aren’t even Biblical. I want people to think through tough topics and ask hard questions and build relationships and actually be shaped by the difficult conversations as opposed to running from them.”
Andy Mineo Employed !llmind For “Uncomfortable”
While having having those difficult conversations with himself, Mineo also ran into difficulty finding consistency for the album. He met !llmind through his friend Emilio Rojas and ran into the producer multiple times before asking !llmind to executively produce the album.
“I showed him my album, where it was a few months back and it was kind of all over the place,” Mineo says. “So I asked if he’d be a part of the executive producing process, which would be help me streamline the album, help create a cohesive sound for it. He agreed and he jumped onboard. We scrapped some songs. We added some songs with his production on it and we really just creating a really dope chemistry.”
Mineo says that !llmind wasn’t able to contribute as much as he had hoped because he was also busy with human., a collaboration project with Joell Ortiz, but the Mineo is hoping to continue working with the producer.
One of the technical aspects of Uncomfortable that Mineo was proud of was how he allowed his love for psychedelic rock to influence his song structure.
“Psychedelic rock records would typically be like seven minutes long and just have different sections,” he explains. “There was no like formula. Formulas were caused by radio stations trying to shrink those seven minute songs into two and a half minute songs so that they could fit more advertising in. So I was like, ‘Yo, why have I thought that songs should be two minutes long and have a verse-bridge-verse-bridge, that structure? Verse-chorus.’ I was like, ‘Dang, you know what? I’m just gonna make music that’s very sectiony.’ So if you listen to this album, it’s just sections all over the place. There’s no structure and that’s that psychedelic rock influence.”
“Strange Motions” is the most obvious nod to the genre.
“I made that record because I was trying to make a song about addiction,” he says. “I had a music video, actually, a visual first, so I just created the song the way that I saw the visual, so hopefully that music video and that visual will be coming out soon.”
“He’s just a creative genius,” Mineo says of Mali Music. “He’s flowing with lyrics and melodies just oozes out of him. He’s just very musical and a very abstract person in some ways, too, very cool but very expressive and it just kinda comes through in his music. But he’s very easy to work with ‘cause when you start working with certain levels that function at a real high level regularly, it makes the work process really easy. Because it’s not like they give you bad ideas. They just give you good ones and better ones. And that’s what you get to choose from. That’s so much more helpful.”