There comes a time in life when you look in the mirror and realize that you’ve changed. It may be the fact that you have new friends, a new city or a radically new mindset. Whatever it may be, you realize that you’re different and you can no longer talk or live as you use to. This is especially true of the Christian as our lives are never static; we are constantly being molded and fashioned into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Derek Minor (formerly known as PRo) gives us PSA V.3: Who Is Derek Minor?; which is a mixtape that expresses Minor’s mindset after he took an introspective look at his life. Minor recently wrote about why he changed his name, stating that his injury allowed him time to reassess his career and goals:
“I realized during that time that there was a lot more that I wanted to accomplish and that I was much different than the artist I was 7 years ago. I have matured as a Christian, husband, father, and artist immensely in that time and I believe the name change reflects that maturity.”
Whether a person is a writer, poet, or musician, they must find their unique voice in order to best express their thoughts and ideas. A person’s voice is their unique perspective on life, their unique collection of beliefs, fears, hopes and dreams, their memories of tribulation and triumphs…their world. The Christian’s world is shaped by our submission to the Lordship of Christ Jesus, but we are still unique individuals with our own unique experiences and ideas. A criticism that I have had about Christian Rap is that at times it feels like there is pressure to strip artists of their individuality.
Christian Hip Hop, by the nature of being relatively new and popular in the secular culture…gets a lot of scrutiny from traditionalist. Thus in many ways there is an increased fear of being labelled as worldly, especially since Christian Hip Hop is still growing and evolving into a more stable genre. Many newly converted artist enter the Christian Rap scene and worry if they are doing it “right.” This unfortunately leads to fans, artist and others to wrongly promote one particular style as Christian Hip Hop instead of allowing for variance. Artists then sometimes have a tendency(not necessarily intentional) to copy a model that seems to be accepted as the “right” way to do Christian Hip Hop.
Over the years I have sometimes thought that Derek Minor was sacrificing his voice to adopt more of a “Reach” sound. After his debut album The Black Out, people accused him of being too worldly. Minor took a break from rapping and got connected with men like Lecrae and BJ who helped him grow as a Christian. This lead to a change in his music both artistically and stylistically but in my opinion he also lost his voice. All his albums since his debut have been a journey that got him to this mixtape where…I feel that he may have finally found his voice. Ultimately PSA V.3 seeks to answer the question: Who is Derek Minor?
The first track entitled “Higher” sets the tone for the project and acts as an introduction to Derek Minor. From the first line Minor highlights the contrast between his former self and the man he is today as he says “I came in the game stuntin on my haters /who would’ve known I‘d be prayin for ‘em years later.” Minor is not one to give you fancy poetic lyrics because he prefers to speak plain and raw: “You looking for that bubblegum candy coated I ain’t it/ I got to keep it real cuz the truth you can’t replace it” Also, I love how the chorus of this song perfectly works as an intro because it ends with: ”PSA V.3 let my symphony take you higher/ and I am no longer Pro Introducing… Derek Minor”
“Getting By” featuring Trip Lee further develops the theme of contrasting the old man in sin and new man in Christ. In this song, Minor and Trip go down a reflective journey into their past lives and the mindset that influenced it. Minor drops poignant lines such as “Fast forward im rappin so I can get a buzz/ think if you knew who I was that would replace the love that was gone/ cause I rarely had a dad at home/ and when I did it was different cause I wasn’t his own.” Both men are real and candid about themselves pre-conversion and that makes the listener connect to them as human beings.
The sound quality was strong and mixes were clean throughout the mixtape. Lecrae and Pettidee join Minor on “Real Recognize Real” and it is truly a banger. The song refers to the idea that real Christians can recognize real Christians and fakes remain strangers. Minor states “Imma try to live what Im talkin bout/ till they take my coffin out!” Perseverance in the faith is one of the true fruits of repentance and Minor talks about continuing to press forward. Each of the men drop verses contrasting the seriousness that they approach Christianity with and fakeness of the nominal “Christians” that society proclaims represent genuine faith in Christ.
The bonus track entitled “Loud” featuring Canon is a catchy tune that gets the blood pumping. However I felt that the chorus: “Bump being quiet/We too young and wild” comes off a bit awkward. The word “Bump” doesn’t work well in the line and makes it come off as sloppy. As I alluded to earlier, Minor doesn’t contain a lot of metaphors or fancy double entendres, he speaks plainly and with great clarity. Considering that this mixtape is an introduction to Derek Minor, the “straight” talk is appreciated and works well in this project.
Overall this is a strong mixtape showing that Derek Minor his growth. Over his many projects, you can hear a refined and developed voice. Minor feels comfortable and lacks the stiffness that I felt he had in some of his previous work. At the end of PSA V.3 you will have a good idea of who Derek Minor is. He expresses his thoughts on his various passions and through that we get to see the world as he does for an hour. Who is Derek Minor? Simply put- he is a person I can’t wait to hear more from.