Work in Progress – A Study of Andy Mineo
On August 23, Andy Mineo released a musical-podcast hybrid called Work in Progress. The project is unlike any released by the artist before, compiling several unreleased tracks into a single release with a podcast series used to create additional conversation.
Whereas Mineo’s earlier releases accounted for a single season, Work in Progress gives listeners a more complete display of Mineo’s artistic evolution. Whether it be the fear of aging, a celebration of marriage, or musical experimentation, the album is a thematic feast and might be Mineo’s most powerful project yet.
Perhaps the most crucial element of Work in Progress is Andy Mineo’s introspection. Even an act as mundane as walking through a park causes Mineo to look inward, or rather forward. On “1988,” the artist wrestles with his fear of growing old and the threat such a process poses to his career, stating, “[l]ife, no one survives it/[a]s much as we want to control it, it just throws surprises.”
As the Reach Records star points out, life has few guarantees, putting everyone through trials before its end, yet the measure of humans is what and how we learn from these trials. In Mineo’s case, he has had to confront his artistic anxieties and history of abandonment. On the alternative version of the 2018 anthem, “I Ain’t Done,” Mineo declares, “I believe in me, the way that I used to…”
After struggling with doubts over his own artistic merits in 2016, Mineo used “I Ain’t Done” as an outlet for his artistic frustrations. Beyond his musical exploits, the Miner League founder has buried past pains that are beginning to emerge in his artistry.
On “Family Photo” Mineo returns to the day of his wedding, expressing the hurt his father put him through on one of the most important days of his life. Meanwhile “I DON’T NEED YOU” expands upon Mineo’s expression, explaining the Reach star’s use of isolation and monetary pursuits as a means of dealing with rejection. With the conclusion of the song, Mineo finally admits the truth, stating,” I don’t need nobody, dang maybe I do.”
Mineo’s pain is deeply rooted and has caused him to retreat into false feelings of self-sufficiency that only in adulthood, through spiritual renewal and therapy, has he begun to shed.
Some of the greatest art pieces in history are framed around the concept of love, and Work in Progress is no exception. “Another Me” and “Til Death” celebrate the relationship of Andy Mineo and his wife Cristina, albeit in different ways. The former is a reevaluation of Mineo’s priorities, as he professes that while he loves his career, Cristina Mineo must be his priority. Balancing his affection for both music with the responsibilities of husbandry has been taxing, but Mineo has begun to recognize that “…pain’s in store for anyone who want it all.”
“Til Death” lays on the celebratory elements more deeply, serving as a rhythmic tune that could be played at weddings for years to come, as Mineo stated was his intention on the corresponding podcast. Bringing in a live band and using bygone methods of recording, “Til’ Death” has what Mineo described as a “rich,” “expensive,” and “vintage” sound.
Never abandoning his roots as a hip-hop artist, Work in Progress also features two of Mineo’s most popular freestyles retooled for wide release. “Honest 2 God” originally debuted on SoundCloud but has been played for several live performances over the years. The song begs its listeners for greater honesty in their lives, unleashing a torrent of vulnerability.
Throughout the track, Mineo shares his concerns over his fears of inheriting lethal health conditions, shifting his priorities towards financial gain rather than righteousness, and loss of faith, coming to the conclusion, “[m]ust be doing something right to get this opposition/[m]eanin’ I should go the hardest when I feel like quittin’.” In both its original presentation and most recent release, “Honest 2 God” is a poignant portrait of Mineo’s emotions.
“So Gone” is a bit different as it serves to demonstrate the artist’s rap prowess. Each line of Mineo’s verse was seamlessly crafted, his flow standing amongst the best emcees in the game. To emphasize the effortless nature of both Mineo and featured artist B. Keyz’s verses, Dave James sings, “I, I been doing this for so long/It’s so hard to make it look easy.”
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Work in Progress release was the use of podcasts to add context to each track. As of this writing, there have been seven episodes released featuring an assortment of guests including head A&R at Reach Records Ace Harris, fellow Reach artist Tedashii, legendary music journalist Rob Markman, and Cristina Mineo, amongst others.
While the episodes typically open with Mineo and his manager, Delgis Mustafa, giving context behind the song, they go on to have a wider discussion of each track’s themes. While clips from each podcast have been included in the Work in Progress project, hearing the story behind each song with the full podcast episodes presents a fantastic opportunity for insight into one of the artists who has defined the Christian hip-hop space.
Work in Progress is not merely a project of lament, but one of joy and celebration. The project includes simple concepts exemplified by “Keepin it Movin,” “OTOD,” and “So Gone,” pairing them with musical experiments like those found on “Anything But Country” and “Til’ Death.”
In many ways, it’s the perfect representation of Andy Mineo’s full personhood, as he balances emotional turmoil with jubilation. If it were a film, it would best be described as a character study, focusing more on Andy Mineo as an individual going through real experiences in a world of which he has little control. Mineo, like his project, is a work in progress, but with God-given courage, he has found a way to reveal a more complete version of himself to the world.