As hip hop culture continues to evolve there are signs the culture is headed back to is roots of responsible rap. Although integrity & positivity aren’t characteristics often associated with modern rap music, there are artist advertising hope & inspiration among beats and rhymes.
For years, wordsmith Derek Minor has been sharing his faith over powerful production. Now after launching his latest offering Empire, he raps with us. Hop in and buckle up, we are headed to Minorville!
What was your childhood like growing up?
I grew up in a childhood with a lot of love. Obviously every person doesn’t grow up with a perfect life, in terms of challenges.
I had a praying mom that always wanted to see me do well. My dad was always super supportive, especially with the music because he was a jazz musician. My dad lived in Michigan plus I had a step dad that lived with us. They both wrested with addictions, but they were good men.
Often times people cope with the ills of life things in different ways and that presented a lot of challenges for me as a young man. How do I deal with things when they go bad? As an adult, I have to model out healthy ways to deal with how crazy this life is for my two boys. It can overwhelm the best of us.
In your song Save me you talk hitting rock bottom, talk about the process of rebounding emotionally?
When i wrote Save me, it was a really hard time but we don’t have to be hopeless even when it seems that way.
There is a scripture that connected with me, Romans 5 verses 4-5 and it talks about how trials creates perseverance, perseverance creates character and character creates hope. I have hope because these trials aren’t pointless and useless.
All across the country when i perform that song people talk about how impacted they’ve been. The trials we go through aren’t for nothing. God is doing something amazing in my life.
Whats the #1 goal of the platform you’ve been provided?
Ultimately, the number one goal is to honor God with what i do. I don’t have many goals besides that. Of course, I want to do good and sell records but that’s the icing on the cake.
I’ve told my friends that as long as i can honor God with my music, take care of my family and make music with my friends everything else is secondary.
Speaking of friends, whats up with 116?
Shout out to those guys! We’re making moves.
Lecrae is topping the charts. All of the Reach Records artists are doing well. Were continuing to pushing the envelop and encourage a young generation of people that they don’t have to be ashamed of Jesus.
Whats Empire’s chief message?
If you are going to spend your life on this Earth use it for something that is valuable.
Its pure coincidence that the TV show Empire came out at the same time as my album, but its an ironic testament. If you look at the guy on the show he has built and empire for himself and we are watching it crumble. He is about to die and regardless of which son takes over its going to change and it wont be the same vision he had.
The whole idea of this album is that you can build you’re own empire on Earth but 9 times out of 10 its going to fall apart. So why don’t you build an empire that’s eternal because that’s going to live forever.
Whats one of your favorite songs on Empire and why?
The title track. I was having fun with the music. I had the opportunity to bring in a singer named Truth. She killed it! Also, the record, Fly. Its the first time i actually sang on a record. I like all the songs, it just depends on the day.
Its seems like most artist talk about cars, clothes & drugs. Why are artists afraid to be different?
I don’t think they are afraid to be different, they’re just rapping about what they value. Also, it has a proven sales history. People like to buy fantasy dream worlds. A lot of rap is a world that really doesn’t exist. They want to live in a world full of earthly pleasures and that’s whats being sold.
Do you feel its a challenge to reach a demographic mesmerized by dumbed down music?
I reach whoever im suppose to reach. I cant control who lessons to my music. If you put to much effort trying to make someone like what you do you’ll lose your mind. I try to be the best at what i do. I think that’s the best way to go about it.
Who do you listen to in the industry?
Im always trolling around the internet constantly looking for new people. I have been enjoying a pop artist thats pretty dope named Bastille. As far as rap goes, I like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, J. Cole those are the guys that are at the top of the rap food chain.
How do you distinguish yourself in the noisy world of hip hop?
By being myself, because there is no one on the earth like me. I think when people start being clones and knockoff versions of someone else is when you make a mistake.
How does Derek Minor stay positive in the face of adversity?
I think about the good things. If you focus on the negative things you’ll never be happy.
God has given us so many blessings. Focus on that. Its a beautiful thing when you’re son comes and jumps in my arms after a long day. Its those moments i try to hold on to when things aren’t going well.
If you could get all of America’s youth in one room at one time what message would you deliver?
There are things greater than what you see on social media and television. A lot of that is fake, its not real. Invest yourself in something eternal, something real and that’s God!
Follow Derek on Twitter: @thederekminor
Catch Derek on the For Now until Forever tour in your city!