Andy Mineo’s ‘II: The Sword’ – A Return to Grace (Breakdown)
On Friday, September twenty-first, Andy Mineo dropped his second EP of the year. The project, II: The Sword, gave Mineo the space to reflect and respond to his critics in an open manner. From track one, “Almost…” to track seven “Shame,” Mineo takes listeners with him on a journey of recovery following the pain of I: The Arrow. After a season of great doubt, Mineo has started to realize the reality of God’s presence around him. The next stage of his journey has forced the Miner League founder to kill who he once was, allowing a new, more faithful, more knowledgeable being to rise in his place.
The Journey to Restoration
Almost… (ft. David James) – “Maybe this time your fall is a fly…”
Picking up right where “…Lost” left off, “Almost…” features an almost angelic combination of voices begging the question, “What if you’re almost there?” Throughout I: The Arrow, Andy Mineo repeatedly voiced his concern over the misplacement of his faith and his fear of falling away. “Almost…” seems to tell Mineo that letting go of his doubt, fears, and anxieties will ultimately let him fly.
Mineo’s 2014 EP Never Land introduced the idea of faith being the truest form of success imaginable. II: The Sword is the second EP in what will likely conclude with the release of Mineo’s album Never Land 2, a story about a believer in crisis and his return to faith. The symphony of voices on “Almost…” tells Mineo that “Maybe this time your fall is a fly,” indicating that if he were to simply surrender his issues, God would save him. Similarly, Peter Pan and his companions had to believe in a force greater than themselves in order to fly to Never Land.
Proverbs 24:16 states, “…for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes” (NIV). In order to return to his own Never Land, Andy needs to believe again.
…There – “Every sword got two edges…”
“…There” represents the next step in Mineo’s journey towards the reconstruction of his faith. In this process of tearing down who he once was, Mineo has had to experience what he refers to as “…beefin with myself.” In dealing with his lack of faith, Mineo confronts the beliefs he once held as absolute truths, eventually killing the past to become who God is calling him to be. As the track states, “Laying flowers at the casket of a twenty-two-year-old me/It sound unusual but listen death is beautiful, see/Nothing grows until it finally dies…”
In order to progress in his spiritual walk, Mineo must accept the death of his naivete. The artist is unraveling all the misinformation he was fed as a young believer, becoming a more knowledgeable, and thus more faithful Christian. As a defiant response to the caller from “I’ve Been…” who questioned where Mineo was, this track merely states, “We’re sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”
Andy Mineo has never been shy about making political references. On this track, Mineo references the white evangelical base who voted for President Trump in the 2016 Presidential race. On the track, Mineo raps slowly, “Did 81 percent of the people I call my brethren/Put an elephant in the room and say it was Heaven-sent?/I don’t know what Bible you reading, what God you believe in//But that don’t sound like reason, it sound like you sleeping.” The artist finds the reasoning in the President’s white evangelical base to be lacking, and he is not afraid to say so.
The reference to a sword on this song, besides being the title of the EP, could be a callback to a line from Mineo’s 2015 track, “Uncomfortable.” On it, the artist rapped, “Eyes on the Lord, gotta grip the blade of the sword” which could be an indication of the way Mineo sees this EP. This is the chapter which he is using to cut down others (more on that later) but will also cut him. The Bible has also been referred to as the “sword of the spirit,” a metaphor which Paul used to show how deeply the word of God can affect us. In his darkest season, Mineo needs this sword to cut him as well as the dishonest, overly critical, pretentious folks who scrutinize his every move on a regular basis.
Friends – “They preyin’ on me, gotta pray more, uh/ the devil horns with the halo…”
“Friends” has given Andy Mineo the space he needed to address his “…friends in air quotes.” The song is all about the supposed friends who only think of Mineo when they need something from him, or have been given something by the pained artist. Naturally, this type of behavior frustrates Andy, as he compares these phony companions to one with both devil horns and a halo. The two-faced nature of these friends is further revealed in their “yes man” mentality as they refused to tell Mineo when he was wrong on certain topics, preferring to tell the artist what they believed he would want to hear. As Mineo asserts, “That’s not what friends do.”
None of My Business – “When they throw stones, then you know they don’t rock with you…”
“None of My Business” continues to address the theme of hypocrisy, both Mineo’s and that of his listeners. For years, gossip, conspiracy theories, and harsh criticisms have floated around Miner League’s founder and those in his camp, and after years of hearing it, Mineo has lost care. At the end of the day, what we think of him is unimportant because Mineo is investing time into being who God has called him to be. Anything else is none of his business. The artist would rather have us “…tell he or she about it…” keeping himself away from the ruthless, mean-spirited nature of gossip. The artist also comments on the idea of what his critics should be doing, such as starting a successful business, getting married, or simply feeding their pets. Instead, the New York native’s detractors denounce his character over the Internet, where he cannot reach them.
Ultimately, the creative sees his own hypocrisy in criticizing others as he has plenty of issues of his own to sort out.
Andy Mineo also reminds his audience to remain cautious in who they surround themselves with, as “Bad company be corrupting good character,” a reference to 1 Corinthians 15:33. We are bound to take on the behaviors of those around us so it would be wise to keep the best company possible. Our friends and family have more of a deeply rooted impact than we could ever realize.
Crazy – “I need strength to not act crazy, now please, Lord…”
“Crazy” appears to be Mineo’s “coming to Jesus” moment on this EP. After a period of great depression, doubt, and anxiety paired with the overwhelming critique of others, the rapper is simply begging God to keep him from losing it. As a broken being in need of help, Mineo can see that he is moving in the wrong direction, simply stating that he wants to make it home. While this situation could be taken literally as Mineo being a distracted driver attempting to go home, these bars can also be seen as a metaphor for Mineo’s desire to return to his true home of Heaven. The artist recognizes that he cannot get back on his own and calls out to his savior in this time of need.
Donuts (ft. Phonte & Christon Gray) – See, in this life, there’s only three things that you can depend on/That’s death, taxes, and Jesus, they all get you…”
“Donuts” is a confident track on which Andy Mineo and Phonte simply decided to spit bars. The rhymes on this track signify the sheer musical talent that both artists possess, but the song still has value in the narrative of II: The Sword. Mineo references his nervous habit of nail-biting but also comments on the positivity and God-driven purpose he continues to seek.
Shame (ft. Josh Garrels) – Jesus, He washes away all of my sin, washes away all my sin…”
“Shame” provides an incredibly clear look into Mineo’s real-life struggles as the artist speaks of his lack of privacy, past porn addiction, and continuing struggles with his faith. While Mineo misses his privacy, he has chosen to leave himself vulnerable to his fans in the hopes that we will grant him grace. Even if he has to suffer, Mineo has decided to reveal his sins so that those who relate know that they are not alone in their addiction, their pain, and their misfortune.
This track also seems to serve as the moment when Mineo begins to “fly” once again as he realizes, “…when I’m weak is when I’m seeing God the strongest.” In being honest about his flaws, Andy Mineo has tasted freedom and has received forgiveness from the God of the universe. The track ends with a triumphant choir and Mineo himself chanting, “He [Jesus] washes away all of my sin.” In spite of all his doubt, God continues to be there for Mineo and for us all.
II: The Sword continues Mineo’s tale of the journey from doubt to faith as the artist has responded to his harshest doubters, become even more vulnerable and begun to fly once more. In letting go of his deep-rooted fears, Andy Mineo has come that much closer to Never Land, and to God Himself. To overcome all of his inner turmoil, the artist needed to trust that if he were to fall, God would catch him. Peter had to walk on water. David needed to face a giant. Jesus was sent to overcome the world. Andy’s job was to face himself. With the Better Late Than Never tour starting, an additional EP and a final album coming soon, the New York native’s future appears bright. Now that he has risen above the clouds, and has broken free from the chains of negativity, Mineo can fly back towards Never Land.
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