Reach Records alum Derek Minor released his third album, “Welcome to Minorville” Tuesday. If you ever wanted a view into the mind of Derek Minor, this album is it.
“’Minorville’ is an imaginary city that I’ve created and I just want to bring you into my world” he said.
“Everyone lives in their own little world (insert your name)ville. This album is really just my opinions on things, and what’s important to me.”
So what’s important to Minor? He tells us on the album opener “Lost In Minorville.” "Lost In Minorville" is a short manifesto with a nostalgic feel.
It’s reminiscent of something Motown would’ve put out in the halcyon days of white picket fences, segregation and sweet Soul music, but it’s message is clear -- marriage, racism, classism and popular culture are broken and their brokenness needs to be addressed.
Continuing with the theme of things wrong with popular culture that need to be straightened out is “IGWT.” "IGWT" or In God We Trust has a futuristic crunk feel and puts the good ole’ US of A on blast for not living out the faith its inhabitants purport to possess.
Statistics and polls would have you believe the United States is a country full of Christians. If that’s true, Minor asks in essence, why do American Christians act so ungodly? Why are there so many social ills? The questions Minor asks on IGWT are food for thought for the thinking Christian.
Minor continues his assault on anti-Biblical Western ideas and behavior on “Gimme.” On “Gimme” Minor raps about the immoral things people are willing to do for money. The song’s hook says it all:
Mo money, Mo cars
Bigger house, Mo yard
Mo fame, Mo applause
Why settle for that when you could have it all.
"We Gone Make It" featuring Canton Jones is one of my favorite songs on the album, not because it has the best raps, beats, or production, but because of the message. It’s a message of hope for those in the black community and those who are oppressed and marginalized.
Even though many of Minor’s fans ape urban culture, they probably come from communities so far removed from the plight affecting the inner city that they can’t really relate to the urban experience.
This fact affects their overall worldview and how they express their Christian faith. So, I hope this song and others on the album like "IGWT" make people uncomfortable enough to try to understand their discomfort.
Some of the lighter fare on the album includes "Ready, Set Go,” (a fun futuristic, bass-laden song featuring staccato rapping) and the bonus track “Deaf.”
"Deaf" is the epitome of a bonus track. Its inclusion (or omission) wouldn’t change the album one bit. It’s just a song about Christ and Christian living with a dope beat.
It reminds me of something that Cash Money would’ve put out and the Big Tymerz or the Hot Boyz would’ve rapped on in the late 90’s. That’s a good thing. That means it’s very “bumpable.” It’s a song you can put on and your non-Christian friends will probably won't notice that you are preaching to them.
Somebody on Minor’s production team must be really into Queen because there are two songs on “Welcome to Minorville” that feature Queen-ish musicality: “We Are (Champions)” and “Heaven's Little Runaway.”
The title of “We Are (Champions)” obviously contains an allusion to the Queen song, “We are the Champions,” and so does the guitar-laden intro to the song. “Heaven's Little Runaway” seems like its piano progression has a little something from “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
“Sweet Dreams” and “Hot-Air Balloon” are encouraging songs about overcoming the hate that haters hate with and "Making Me More" is one of the most eclectic tracks on an already musically diverse rap album. Like the song goes from Delta Blues to Rock to Gospel in under 60 seconds.
“Love You Better” is about keeping the flame alive in committed marital relationships. It’s a song I think a lot of young men (and women) need to hear. Sometimes I don’t think they realize that women still need to be cherished after the honeymoon is over. Even though we live in a culture where Feminism reigns and women can do anything men can do, and better, it’s still important to do what the Temptations said back in the 80’s, “Treat Her Like a Lady.”
The only song that had me scratching my head was “Respect That.”
The rap itself was cool. It’s standard stuff about Jesus and the Gospel. The thing that got me was the intro. It’s like something straight from the movie the “Gladiator.” Then after the intro, the song gets crunk. I guess the intro was supposed to be the "calm before the crunk." The other part of the song that had me wondering was the “Omen”ish chant before RMG takes the mic.
“Dear Mr. Christian” was the first single off of “Welcome to Minorville.” It’s a good song with great production and raps by Dee-1 and Lecrae. I’m glad it’s getting such a great response. Its lyric video on Youtube has already racked up more than 245,000 views. I guess the message that Christians need to try to understand where sinners are coming from instead of being all self-righteous is one that people still need to hear.
On the last official track on the album, “Homecoming ft. Isaac Carree,” Derek Minor goes into Slick Rick mode. In the song, Minor tells the story of a prodigal—A good girl from a good home, whose life spirals out of control after she gets pregnant and hooked on Meth. When the prodigal realizes that she can change and that God forgives her, she goes home and the choir, angels and butterflies break out to welcome her home. It's a good song that might make you get all mushy if you don't watch yourself.
“Welcome to Minorville” is a really good album. On this musically varied album, you’ll find your flavor and your point-of-view on at least one song. The only let down for me was the lack of cohesion. The intro track, “Lost In Minorville” whet my lips for something more thematic. The album ultimately doesn’t deliver what I was looking for, but it’s still a worthwhile album that Christian hip hop fans will enjoy.