About three weeks ago, Andy Mineo released his second studio album dubbed ‘Uncomfortable’. I believe a lot of hard work went into making the album. He is a hard worker and I hope I can work half as hard as he did to not sound bias in my review because honestly he is my favorite rapper. I must say nonetheless that it is a classic piece of work and should be recognized as such by all standards: from instrumentation to lyrics to consistency of message and its relevance to current issues. It is a masterpiece.
The album begins with the title track ‘uncomfortable’. Mostly, when artists name their album after a track on it, it is usually a disaster putting the entire album into perspective. In the sense that, you realize the artist clumsily puts songs together on that project and loosely selected his favorite and named the entire album after it. That is nasty. With Andy’s ‘uncomfortable’, the message resonates throughout all the songs and not just the title track. Even the album cover depicts the state of being uncomfortable. Time and space won’t allow me to do an in depth explication of each song, but I will try to do so for most of them.
As Andy himself rightly said, ‘the album will disturb comfortable people and comfort disturbed people’. It does that, actually. The first verse of the uncomfortable track begins with the following lines. ‘Lord prepare me for the war/ Comfort be the thing that would make a king fall/Eyes on the Lord/ Gotta grip the blade of the sword…’. Of course comfort fills you with complacency and serves as a hindrance to progress. Kings are amongst the most comfortable people in the world. Their status affords them all the pomp and pageantry that your sophisticated imagination may never be able to conceive. So of course, Andy was talking about a king here…or so I thought. In his interview on the ‘Sway in the morning’ radio show, he stated that he was specifically talking about King David. These lines are an allusion to the time when David stayed behind and didn’t go to war. He ended up sleeping with Uriah’s wife and killing Uriah as a result of his intentions to cover up the mess. Had David chosen war (discomfort) over the comfort of staying back in his palace and strolling on his porch, he wouldn’t have fallen into such an abominable sin. The message is clear here, “comfort is not always a good enough reason to take a decision”. Sometimes the road to success is like a thorny park and the road leading nowhere is as comforting as carpet grass. Choose ye this day your destination but don’t do so with the path leading to it in mind.
Another amazing message in those few lines is the part where he says ‘gotta grip the blade of the sword’. According to him, he used that imagery to depict the need for Christians to judge themselves by the standards of the bible before they judge others. Let me explain this. So the Word of God is described as being ‘sharper than a two-edged sword’ in the bible, therefore when we judge people, we point the sword in their face while gripping the handle. But God didn’t intend for us to grip the handle of the sword but the blade. We must do this on a daily basis: grip the sword by the blade, cut yourself and bleed! Bleed till you are drained of every bit of ‘your self-righteous self’ then you can go out there and correct others and help rid their lives of any impurities. Let them grip the sword by the blade too, don’t point the sword at them. **Deep!**
Uncomfortable is followed closely by ‘uptown’. In Uptown, Andy tries to capture and retell the lifestyle of people living in his hometown, New York city. Just as I stated earlier, every song screams the need to let go of a comfortable lifestyle and choose that which is beneficial though it may appear unpleasant now… so does ‘uptown’. In the first verse Andy says, ‘Baby, how you gon complete your life’s checklist/Spending every night watching netflix?/ Time is precious, gotta invest it when you spend it/ If we are prisoners to comfort, we judge our own sentences…’. This is self explanatory. We see the theme of ‘disturbing comfortable people’ live and coloured here. Instead of spending countless hours engaging in that which merely gives you pleasure, it would be a better investment to spend time doing profitable things.
Desperados is my favorite song on the album: the music; the instrumentation; Mali Music’s hook coupled with Andy’s versatile rap style makes it a delicious meal to my ears. A desperado is a violent criminal who is not afraid of getting hurt or caught (Merriam Webster Dictionary). In the song, both Andy and Mali proclaim that they are desperados who are wanted dead or alive. ‘Desperados’ inspires a positive rebellious spirit in me. Where I don’t want to conform to the standards society sets – even on social media. So if they want my life for the truth I stand for, well, I would gladly be a desperado. It is not about the number of people who like you, it is about how many people you impact positively: that is the real essence of this life. Andy states this categorically, ‘I ain’t trying to be liked, I’m trying to be a light’. Do not conform. Be a light wherever you are even if they criminalize you because of it.
Any Andy Mineo fan would notice that he has a knack for getting personal on some of his songs just to help people deal with the same issues. He does so in the song ‘Hear my heart’. It is a song for his big sister Grace, who was born deaf. In this song, Andy apologizes for never learning sign language which minimized communication between him and his sister. Andy ends the only verse of the song by saying ‘My big sister Grace, I’m sorry I never learnt the signs/ I know that you were born deaf, but forgive me for the years that I lived blind’.
We see Andy get more personal in two more songs: Ghost and Love. In Ghost he speaks about losing touch with one of his closest friends. And in ‘Love’ he seeks to redefine love. He does this by dispelling the popular definition people give to love. While at it, he made mention of the fact that some people – men especially – think they are too tough to love. It is a ‘guy thing’: we assume it is a sign of weakness to be vulnerable to someone emotionally. But no, Andy says it is cool to be like that, especially with the one you love. It is both therapeutic and beneficial to the growth of the relationship. Andy personifies love in the entire song and tells love that ‘when I think about God, you are the definition’. Indeed, God doesn’t merely love, GOD IS LOVE!.
In ‘Rat race’ Andy attacks people who expend all their energies in criticizing artists like it was a sport. He raises some very important issues too. Somewhere in the chorus it says ‘tell them we don’t wanna play/ we’re so okay with last place’. Now, who on earth would be okay with being the last in a race? *points finger at Andy* What he is trying to say is, we are all running a race in life – that is our individual calling. So if people judge you by how much you are losing in their race, please take a seat and be okay with the last position in their race. For all they know, you are leading in your race by being last in theirs. This definitely has to do with Andy’s position in the rap game in America. It may appear that he isn’t mainstream yet… but so what? He is so okay with last place. Since to him this is ministry and not a game to be won, he concludes each verse by saying ‘roof your ball, I don’t wanna play’. Ouch! That ought to leave the owner of the ball in a whirlwind of embarrassment.
I like it when Andy sounds tough on a track. When he sounds almost angry and delivers his verses with an almost hoarse voice, I love it *giggles*. In ‘Vendetta’ We see Andy Mineo taking the pulpit and pitching it on the stage of a political rally to address some political issues. The song is centered on one point: the artist is more influential than the politician. According to him most politicians have the right ideas and mindset for the job until they enter office then there is a visible decay of purpose witnessed by all. One line in the chorus captures this point: Pac did a lot more for me than Barack. Yep, he means 2 pac (the rapper) did a lot more for him than Barack Obama. In the second verse, Andy admits to his overindulgence in unnecessary things too. He says he has excess of things that are needed by others, referring to the 100 sneakers he has, which are meant for his two feet. It is all vanity and a chasing after wind.
On ‘Know that’s right’ Andy takes a few shots at the negativity of some hip hop songs. The truth about how most of these artists lie about the lives they live while they live in debt. He also said, “My home girl started stripping/ I said ‘chill, get a degree’/ She told me, ‘Andy you’re trippin/ ‘Cause you don’t make more money than me”. And that’s true. People could be earning a living from doing things that are either criminal or degrading and if you find yourself desiring their lifestyle, know that it isn’t worth it. Persevere through the hardship you are in and sooner or later you will be in a better position in life. Also in ‘strange motions’ he touches on dealing with addictions. In ‘Now I know’ he touches on the enlightenment he has received over the years dispelling some of the myths he used to believe while a child. He stated that he even ‘thought that Jesus was white’. The Album ends with ‘make me a believer’ and there is one musical interlude on the album: David’s roof. I state this again, it is a masterpiece.
Together, all these songs trouble you. They ruffle the branches of the palm tree you are resting under to wake you up from your sleep. Human beings will do anything to have a comfortable life but so far as we are on this earth we will always have problems. It is better for us to decide to suffer discomfort for a worthy cause. Let us not be caught up in the mundane. Be worried. Be disturbed about the evil around you and in the world at large. Do not be complacent. Comfort can kill you. As G.K Chesterton said ‘Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure”. And Andy said ‘Nobody told us we could die like this; Nobody told us we could die from BLISS’. Be uncomfortable.