Derek Minor Breaks Down Songs 8-15 From ‘The Trap’ (Part 2)
This is week three of our series with Derek Minor. First, we introduced the concept of his album The Trap. Next, Minor broke down the first seven tracks of the album in part one of the song break down. Now, in the final installment and part two of the album breakdown, Derek Minor ties up the rest of the album.
Just like the previous articles, this story will include an audio version that you can listen to or read along with. We also encourage you to go back and listen to the first two parts to hear the entire story.
*Also, note that in a few instances words were omitted for reading clarity purposes.
I Have a Dream
Obviously based off of the Martin Luther King Jr. speech. But for me, it was what my dream was. The music you hear has these changes. When you think of him, you think Martin Luther King march on Washington when you hear the beat. So I wanted to take that vibe and talk about what my dream is for today. If Martin Luther King was to do his speech today, what would his dream be? This me giving a tip of my hat to him.
Greg James is actually my biological little brother. He’s a beast at making at making music. I was like ‘Yo we got to do a song together’, so he wrote that hook. He still lives in Michigan. We were talking about this life and he was like, ‘Yo I’m done playing in the slums, I gotta go’. It was us going back to the idea of, at some point, we got to look inside ourselves and say, ‘you know what, I’m done playing in the slums. I gotta go. I gotta get up out of here’. That’s what a lot of people think about that, by any means. That could be elicited things. We wanted to talk about it from the perspective of we got to choose a route that’s going to be a better route for that to happen for us.
This is another double triple entendre situation. Verse one is, who gave the real Rick Ross coke. Rick Ross was kind of like, the original Rick Ross not the guy in Miami. He was one of the first dudes to take drug dealing international, and says he was working for the government to do that. He says the way drugs were brought into the community, it was a government thing to pump crack into the ghetto and use that to fund the war. Now, he also dropped a name: Gary Webb. Gary Webb is the guy who broke this, and you can see it on Geraldo. He was an investigative reporter who broke this story about Rick Ross and the government involvement in the crack cocaine business, and he ended up dying. They say it’s a suicide.
‘Black Market,’ I talk how in Colorado and a lot of places on the West Coast weed is legal, but right now there are people in prison for small amounts of weed, and they are there for a long, long time. The same thing that’s harmless now…The crazy thing is also statistically when you look at the percentage of black people and white people as far as marijuana is concerned, they use at the same rate. Yet black people are two to three times as more susceptible to go to jail than white people. So it’s not the fact that black people use weed more than white people, it’s the fact that they use it at the same rate but black and brown people are in prison more than white people are.
The last verse, I talk about myself being a business owner and creating my own market. So the double entendre here is when we think about black market, the area where things that are illegal are sold. But when you talk about black market, we could also talk about how black people’s culture has been exploited and exported to the world. When you think about rap, it’s like we can pick the positive rapper, or we can pick the guy with the narrative of black people being criminalized. Let’s put the budget behind the guy that furthers that narrative. So its black market in the sense of illegal things being sold or black market in the sense of black people being sold…black BEING the market.
There’s no aspect of American culture that isn’t affected by black invention. Yet, when you look in your history books, we get little to no credit. So much so that for us to get a little bit of credit, there has to be a month created where ‘Hey, we’re not going to put this is in the history books, but let’s say here’s a month where we talk about what black people have contributed to American society’. People ask why there’s a black history month or a black entertainment channel. Those things were created during the time where black people weren’t included in the history books. When you look at most history books, they don’t talk about black contributions to America besides forced slave labor.
So when you think about that, we’ve contributed to everything, especially when you think arts, entertainment, and culture, even when you think invention. There’s so many inventions that were created by black people, [but] no one knows that a black person created it.
It was crazy because me and Chino were in the studio and I said, ‘I need something to tell a story on’, and he plays this drum loop. From there, it was off to the races. For most people, their introduction to the conversation of black civil rights wasn’t until Trayvon Martin was killed, and then Mike Brown was the idea of black people’s interaction with police.
I remember specifically, I was going to a church that was predominantly white, and they saw my frustrations and stances on social media. I remember one of the pastors specifically saying, ‘I always thought cops were the good guys. The idea of them being the bad guys never crossed my mind’. That blew my mind and his. It blew my mind because, with me, cops have never been viewed as good, and for him cops were good. It crazy how we grew up in two different Americas.
So I wanted to talk about that from one vantage point and show over the past five-six years how I’ve seen these stories play out. When you listen to the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ people, the story is pretty much ‘the cop had no other choice but to kill this guy’. Then you listen to the black community it’s like, ‘There’s no reason why this cop was in the community in the first place’ almost. So when you think about ‘Black Lives Matter’, people look at that as some sort of extreme thing. I’ve heard someone say it was a terrorist organization. No, that was birthed out of the idea that people looked and said, ‘Our lives matter’.
I wanted to tell both sides of the story. So you have this story where there’s this kid who’s about to take his revenge out. His older brother wants to save him. He comes to try to save him and it’s mistaken identity. Rather than the cop take the time to think, ‘Let me make sure this person is a threat’. They come in assuming, but you can see why they would think that. They were just responding to a call of a man with a gun beating the crap out of someone. Then on the flip side, if that person would have been less jumpy and more investigative, everyone would have went home that night.
I want to paint a real picture as I’ve heard people come together, how those situations with police brutality seem to go at times. Usually, there are no winners. As far as my perspective of police brutality, like, it’s a dangerous job, but we also have to make sure we treat people as people for each individual person. Everyone wants to go home. The police officer wants to go home, but also the person that’s being arrested or interrogated, they want to go home too. So let all go home by using common sense practices and looking at everyone being made in God’s image. One decision can change everything.
When you hear the song ‘Decisions’, you think ‘dang, if this person did this differently, this scenario wouldn’t have happened’. That’s kind of the picture I wanted to paint with that; how crazy that situation can is. I let whoever is listening to the story determine who could have done what better.
Every album, I usually have a song that’s for me. I don’t really care what people think about it, and it’s usually the most eclectic, weird, crazy song because that’s just kind of who I am. ‘Goodbye Lullaby’ is that song. It’s one of those [songs] where I wanted to talk about depression and frustration.
When you listen to the song, it’s kind of like dark and all over the place. I know for myself often I’ve been in positions of depression just because. Our whole world feels like it’s suicidal at times. I wanted to talk about what gets a person there. There was a cycle of life for me, I know for myself, where it just felt like ‘Man, nobody loves me, nobody cares’, and all those different things. So I’m writing the journey there, which is the dark chords, the hard verses, everything coming together. But then you get this crack of light, and that crack of light is when Jesus enters the picture.
When you look at this whole story, the whole first two-quarters of the album is this darkness. It’s said, it’s dreary, it’s broken. We’ve all experienced this in our life, whether you’ve dealt with this stuff in this album or not. Our lives have darkness. But at a certain moment a Christian believer’s life, that moment when your faith is in Christ, the scales come off of your eyes, you see the light and your life is changed. Now that doesn’t mean your circumstances change, but your perspective on how you see the world changes, your perspective of where your faith lies changes. I wanted to capture that in a song. That actually captures the whole album because from here the album switches up to a lighter album. It goes from that darkness. This is the changing point, and boom, Jesus comes in.
The hook was written by my guy Wes, he’s an amazing hook writer. It was funny because he knew I was working on this album called The Trap. He says ‘Man, I have a song, I don’t know if it fits the album. Probably doesn’t, I just want to get your opinion on it. When I heard it, I said ‘This is it. This is the song that changes the breadth of the album, it breathes life into the album’.
It really just me reflecting on my whole life after I met Jesus and anyone’s life after they meet Jesus. Again, the security is not that circumstances change, but the security is the fact that I know what the future holds. The Bible says that God is good to us and He will not leave us, all things work together for the good of those who are in Christ Jesus. I mean there are so many promises of blessings for God’s people, and we don’t have to cry ultimately because internally for the Christian believer and the believer’s life is, my faith in Jesus allows me to know that even after death to be with Christ for eternity. So there’s no reason to cry because I know where my future is.
Again, it’s changing the narrative when you think about The Trap, all of our traps, and whatever that is. For some people that’s greed, that’s power, whatever that is. The quest for those things is because we are looking for security. I need more money so I can be secure [or] I need more power so I can be secure. I need to do whatever, so I can be secure. But when you find your security in Jesus, you began to have less faith in those things and those things are pitiful masters. Money is a horrible master because you get it every week and you lose it every week. It’s a poor master. Obviously, pick anything, it’s a poor master. But God is a good God and he never leaves us or forsakes us, so that’s what that song is.
See You Win
I think a lot of times in the world especially in America we are focused on getting to the top. Everyone has to be the loser and we have to be the person on top. This is me saying I want to see everybody win. I don’t have to win at your expense. I want to see you win and I want to see you win as well.
I looked around and I thought to myself with the video like, ‘Man, this is the revolution’. The revolution is looking around at so many of us young, all different types of people in our culture, not the Christian rap culture, but even Christianity.
I just got back from Israel and I was at the Jordan River. You see people from all over the world there who have been affected by Christ, and it’s literally such a diverse culture. So it’s like, ‘Yo, welcome to the revolution’. The revolution is, especially when I think about for myself, I’m going to do everything in my power to bring people, who look like me and who don’t look like me, that are broken and hurt to tell them about the water I’ve drank. That’s kind of the whole idea of ‘Revolution’. It’s like you came through all this stuff, but let’s all get together and start a revolution. We’ve all been broken, let’s all get together.
They say it takes your whole life to write your first album. It feels like it’s taken my whole life to write this album.
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Interview conducted by Justin Sarachik, transcription provided by Ed Boice.