Derek Minor wasn’t supposed to tell the thousands who purchased Empire about his father, sister and aunt dying, the car accident that hospitalized his wife and the business deal gone wrong that made 2014 the worst year of his life.

His sixth studio album was all but finished in November, and it didn’t reference the recent tragedies that repeatedly left Minor crying out to God for help. Then, when only slight touchups on the project remained, Miami-based producer G Roc sent Minor an instrumental that inspired him to vent his grief.

Minor proceeded to write and record the first verse of the song “Save Me.”

All I know is they say that pops O.D.’d /
He ain’t have no insurance /
So the burden of bury him fallin’ on me /
God I need some endurance /
I feel like you up in the sky and you torturin’ me /
Even though that that’s foolish /
You see all that pain that I feel like your pour it on me /
I just hope I don’t lose it /
‘Cause I’m tired of buryin’ my relatives /
Tired of feelin’ I’m failin’ at everything /
‘Cause sometimes it feel like you take away everything /
It feel like you’ve gotta be mad at me /
Are you mad at me? Do you hate me? /
Are these tribulations just to break me?
Man, this can’t be the reason you made me /
I’m goin’ crazy, won’t you save me?

Minor also wrote the hook with singer J. Paul, who was able to record it because he was in town on a break from The Anomaly Tour. Minor still had no intention of adding the song to Empire, but he sent the verse and hook of “Save Me” to Reflection Music Group CEO Doc Watson for feedback anyway.

“When I heard it,” Watson said, “I got goose bumps. I teared up, and I knew right away it needed to go on the record.”

Minor decided that the potential to encourage listeners outweighed the discomfort of airing his heartache.

“When I first got the idea that I could do music for a living,” Minor said, “it was never based off the fact that I can make a whole lot of money and do a bunch of turn-up tracks just so people can get excited. That’s never been the end goal for me. Music has always been about impacting people’s hearts — period.

Before Minor even finished “Save Me” and tacked it on to Empire, the impact on everyone who touched the song served as affirmation.

J. Paul immediately identified with the lyrics because he, too, had just experienced the worst year of his life. The singer wasn’t pleased with his initial recording of the hook, though.

“This doesn’t match [Minor’s] intensity,” J. Paul said.

He began to reflect on his past year — struggling to find a job and breaking up with the woman who he thought he would marry. Through his own heartache, J. Paul found the ability to match the intensity and pain in Minor’s voice on the hook.

Minor then wrote and recorded the second verse of “Save Me” and sent the song to G Roc, who conducted a separate interview with Rapzilla, yet used the exact same words as Minor to describe how “Save Me” happened.

“It was a God thing,” G Roc said.

G Roc’s father, too, had died within the last couple of years. The producer said much of his recent work has had a darker tone as a result, including “Save Me.”

“When he sent it back to me,” G Roc said, “I fell in love with it. I related to it so much on so many levels. He said he lost father and didn’t have the money for the funeral, and I know what that is.”

G Roc knew Minor’s pain. J. Paul knew Minor’s pain. Watson knew listeners of Empire would also, which is why he encouraged Minor to include it.

“I think we all have “Save Me” moments,” Watson said. “I think it’s important that everybody knows that we’re all in this together.”

Watson was right.

Minor said, in his experience, people react to hardship in two ways: by running from God or to God. As many reasons as Minor felt that he had to run from God, he did the opposite — reading the Bible and praying more than he ever had in his life.

“I don’t know how this works for my good,” Minor said as he mourned, “but I know I love Jesus and that his scriptures say that all things work together for the good of those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Minor leaned on Romans 8:28, as well as Romans 5:3-5: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Minor wore his heart on his sleeve on “Save Me” with one hope: that it would be an anthem for listeners to run to God.

“For me, it was really important for me to be vulnerable in that record because I feel like, in that, I can lead by example,” he said. “I don’t want my kids to ever grow up like, ‘Man, man dad was never emotionally with me. He never talked about his failures.’

“I feel like, often times we don’t like to be emotional. We don’t like talking about our issues because then there’s vulnerability. When we realize that ‘I can rest in the fact that God’s control is good, that’s where the peace comes.”

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