The artist formerly known as PRo, now performing as Derek Minor, is an artist, a rapper, a theologian. He, Andy Mineo, and Sho Baraka have worked their way into my dream team of Christian rappers that once featured Lecrae and Trip Lee as a standalone dynamic duo. But Minor first grabbed my attention with “Dear Mr. Christian” and “Lost in Minorville” from Welcome to Minorville, and I tracked down the backlog to add to my collection. It was a no-brainer that I’d pre-order Empire, Minor’s album out yesterday, and listen to his examination of church and society.
Fundamentally, this album is about the kingdom of God. But it’s also a criticism of the fake gods and kingdoms, the petty human empires, that we create with our own minds and falsely think have value. It’s not that Minor doesn’t have a sense of humor – but the majority of these songs are deadly serious, like “Babel I.” I was reminded of the “Parable of the Rich Fool” in Luke 12:13-21. Every moment is a gift and we don’t know when we’ll be held accountable for what we’ve done. How we treat others and what we do with the blessings we’ve been given –that matters.
Minor teams up for an aggressive album in scope and sound, with Lecrae, Canon, Tedashii, Leah Smith, J. Paul, Anthony Evans Jr., and Colton Dixon, as well as a crowd of folks I haven’t heard of yet. But the message through each and every song (seriously, I’ve never heard a rap album stay quite as on point as this!) is about the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is coming and is here, the juxtaposition of the here and the ‘not yet.’ And it’s laid across beats that will have you tapping your fingers on the steering wheel or running faster on the treadmill. But those articulations of theology and social justice, the race issues and money issues and leadership issues, they’ll rattle around in your head and dare you to move, too.
“Until the End of Time” and “All Hail the King” are my early favorites. But as my brain unpacks the message behind each beat, that could change. rating: buy it