Politicians would dream of the crowd Andy Mineo recently had at his show at the Texas Theater on the campus of The University of Texas at Arlington.
College and high school kids got hyped next to middle-aged people, some with their children. The hands bobbing in the air, from the front row to the back of the balcony, represented men and women from all races coming together for what may be the greatest uniting force in our society: music.
The speech being given to the crowd was in the language of the people: hard-hitting Hip Hop.
Power And Influence
Mineo understands the power he has as an artist, addressing it throughout his latest release Uncomfortable. The hook of the song “Vendetta” even declares that “’Pac did a lot more for me than Barack.” As Mineo explains later in the song, the point is that the artist has more influence in people’s lives than the politician, no matter who the politician is. It’s a line that, like hundreds of others, was sung exuberantly by the 2,100 people packed into the theater.
Perhaps the craziest part about the crowd in Arlington that night is that this is all part of Mineo’s first headlining tour. Opening for him were newcomer SPZRKT and poet/rapper/activist, Propaganda. After touring with his fellow 116 Clique and Reach Records labelmates such as Lecrae, Trip Lee, and KB for years, it’s now Mineo’s time to shine.
“I’ve done a lot of shows and people have gone really crazy but this is the first time that this is my tour and I’m headlining. It feels great,” says Mineo. “I’m excited that I get to do what I love for a living and people buy a ticket to see me do that.”
The pressure of being a headliner is not lost on the New York-based Mineo, but it also allows him to be as creative as he wants to be.
“As a headliner if things don’t go well it looks bad on you. It’s part of growing as an artist and I’m excited to finally do it,” says Mineo.
Not Seeking Acceptance, Getting It Anyway
Seeing the crowds at his show, it would be easy for Mineo to become wrapped up in a desire to be liked and lose sight of his mission, which as a Christian and an artist, is to spread the message of Christ. In “Desperados” he declares “I’m not trying to be liked, man I’m trying to be a light/I’m not trying to make a living, I’m trying to make a life.”
But as an artist, his entire career is dependent on people liking what he’s doing and spending money going to his shows and buying his music. It’s a tough balance to strike, but Mineo focuses on keeping his priorities straight.
“I’m not trying to be liked over making a difference. I would much rather take the L on being liked for the sake of making a difference and being a light and making the world a better place,” says Mineo. “I don’t want to sacrifice who I am for the sake of acceptance.”
Right now, that formula is resulting in acceptance for Mineo and his work. Besides the crowds that have accompanied him on his Uncomfortable Tour, his album reached #3 on Billboard Rap Charts and #10 on the Billboard Top 200.
Mineo worked with famed producer Illmind (Drake, J. Cole, Ludacris) as the executive producer of the album.
“This was our first time working together and it was great. He was able to help me with some creative decisions. I like so much stuff so to have someone that I could bounce some stuff off of and help me cut the fat was great,” says Mineo.
Successes On Successes
It’s continued over a year of personal and professional successes for Mineo, as he got married in August 2014. His song “Love” commemorates this moment and he even played his wedding video on the screen as he performed the song at his show. His wife, Cristina, has joined him on this tour.
“It’s great to be able to finish a show and go kiss your wife instead of going back to the tour bus with a bunch of stinky dudes,” jokes Mineo.
Another recent success was his song “You Can’t Stop Me” off his 2014 EP Never Land recently winning an ESPN competition over the likes of Taylor Swift, Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, and Big Sean. It was voted as the inaugural “Whammy Award” winner as the best walkup song in the Major Leagues by fans on ESPN.com.
Players such as the Seattle Mariners’ Logan Morrison and the San Francisco Giants’ Justin Maxwell use it as their walkup song. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen is a huge fan, as well as NBA MVP Steph Curry.
“It really has been a bunch of wins lately, and I’m grateful for that. I know every dog has his day, but it’s been a great ride so far,” says Mineo.
From personal successes to professional success, it’s been a good last few years for Mineo. The clearest indication of his success, however, is the insane, diverse, vocal crowds at his shows. It’s obvious that this 27 year-old Italian-American rapper is the man for the people.
The Uncomfortable Tour continues through November 15, check out Mineo’s website to see if he is coming to a city near you.