Derek Minor Left His Cares in the Jordan River & Moves Forward in Purpose
Derek Minor doesn’t care anymore. He’s a man that is perfectly in focus and feels the tug of God on his purpose. He doesn’t care about what you think of him. He doesn’t care about receiving any awards, accolades, or recognition, and he doesn’t care about the industry’s politics. Derek Minor only cares about YOU.
Derek and I are sitting in the makeshift greenroom of Church City USA in Jamaica Queens, NY. The church sits in the middle of hip-hop’s hollowed grounds and is pastored by Christian Rap NY legend Richie Righteous. Fellow RMG labelmate Canon is in the room as well as DJ Wade-O.
Minor is sitting back, relaxed on the couch. NYC traffic caused me to miss my interview time. Now, I’d just be an observer taking mental notes to paint a portrait of one the genre’s most influential leaders.
“Call me old or cranky,” Derek said…”But the only thing I care about is the people out there.”
He continued, “They are my responsibility every time I step out.”
Minor has been hard at work in 2019. While we eagerly await the conclusion of the “Up and Away Series,” By Any Means, he’s put it on hold. He wrote the five tracks in 24 hours. Then, the producer of the project went to Brazil on a whim and hasn’t come back. Derek’s song stems are in L.A. It can’t be completed until the producer gets back. Yet again, he doesn’t care.
“It’s my masterpiece, it’ll be ready when it’s ready,” he said. Derek puts three fingers to his lips making the Italian chef kiss gesture and says, “It’s the dessert. The perfect cup of coffee after a meal. It’s my best work yet.”
In the meantime, the RMG CEO has recorded 25 songs since January. They will all slowly trickle out until By Any Means is ready.
All of the music Derek Minor has been putting out hits hard. The message is constant, strong, and relatable for certain parts of his audience. For others, it may be too real or not fit the narrative of what is radio friendly.
“They want me to do rap anthems about Jesus rather than have me say, ‘What Would Jesus Do’?”
Derek Minor doesn’t care.
He reiterates this over and over. He knows exactly what needs to be done.
After a few openers and a roughly 30-minute set by Canon, who performs like a kinetic ball of energy, it was time for Derek.
He changes his clothes and lotions up his face. As his hands move from his beard to the top of his head and down again, his demeanor changes. You can tell this is the fourth quarter of the appropriately named, “This is Not a Game Tour.”
I remarked how most rappers I speak to like 15 to 20-minute sets. He said his is about 30 minutes because he doesn’t want to exhaust a crowd who’s already heard four acts.
Over the next hour or so, Minor took Church City USA through a barrage of ups and downs that added some vibrant color to this tapestry of Derek Minor.
He led the night off playing some of his hit records. Then, a little past halfway through the set, he took a bit of an intermission to talk. The cover photo of this article is Derek Minor getting baptized in the Jordan River in Israel. Since this trip, his life hasn’t been the same. It literally may have saved his soul.
“Have you ever opened up the Bible and looked through it, and thought all these stories sounded like Lord of the Rings?” he asked the church. “Yeah, that’s how I was feeling.”
Minor started to feel the Bible was just a bunch of well-done storytelling. He saw the world around him and just couldn’t see how God was in it. The rapper said he was ready to throw in the towel on his rap career and stop speaking to people because he didn’t believe it anymore. He was on the cusp of losing his religion.
Then he was offered the opportunity to go on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel. He checked his calendar and it aligned perfectly with free time that he had. Derek always wanted to go, so he went.
“The second I stepped out onto the Holy Land, it became REAL to me,” he said emphatically. “I was walking on the grounds where everything I read happened. I felt it all.”
When he got to the Jordan River, he couldn’t pass up on the chance of being baptized where Jesus was. This was the turning point that brought him all the way back. He witnessed people of all races standing together by the river praising God together in different languages. It was a window and glimpse into Heaven. He knew from this moment on, nothing really mattered anymore except bringing people to the Father.
THIS is why Derek doesn’t care anymore. He had a perspective change. Since that trip, he is on another level. He gave up on everything including “religion” and is just honing in on his relationship with Christ.
Minor also took the time to dive into his personal story. He grew up without much of a father with most of his family on drugs. The odds didn’t look good for him but God led him “Up and Away.” Your Soul Must Fly High Above The Trap By Any Means in a roundabout way is the autobiography of Minor’s life and those he saw coming up around him. Honestly, it’s the story of many children, teens, and young adults who find themselves stuck as victims of circumstance in just being born another color or in a certain neighborhood.
He played some new songs as well. I’m not certain if they are from By Any Means or part of the 25 he just recorded. They were called “Fair,” “Price of Life,” and “Revenge,” each preluded by the message of the particular track. Each of those messages was delivered with fire as he tested out the waters of his new tracks and a receptive NY audience.
It only seemed fitting that Derek would end his set with “Revolution.” Many of the lines hit harder with the context of the night.
Went from robbing hood to Robin Hood
I can not complain ’cause Yah’ is good
Even when they try to overlook
I can not complain ’cause Yah’ is good
Canon then joined Derek on stage for “Take Off,” “It’s Not a Game,” and “Party People.” The entire crowd erupted into as Derek and Canon each jumped into the crowd to spit some bars and hype everyone up.
Then off the stage, they went, Minor later emerging with a vintage Dennis Rodman Pistons jersey to be prayed over by Richie Righteous along with Canon and Wade-O.
The rest of the night was delegated to meeting and speaking with the people in attendance. Next, they headed off to a rental car for a quick night of sleep followed by an early morning flight to do it all again.
I’ve heard stories from artists such as KJ-52, PoetiCS, and many others about Derek Minor’s character. He’s always willing to be the big brother and willing to jump on the phone to have a conversation when you need it. I got to experience all this first hand, and understand the level of respect shown. It’s amazing to see someone so impassioned by their purpose. He follows one simple ingredient, he just doesn’t care.