You'd never know Andy Mineo was a Christian rapper in the traditional sense. The bible isn't quoted in all of his songs, nor is his love for God overbearing or preachy. Andy Mineo is most certainly a rapper that happens to be Christian, rather than a Christian that happens to rap. It's a fine line, but an important one when aiming your record at a wider demographic despite the western world still being largely Christian. Do you want to hear how you SHOULD be living your life whilst a tipsy young lady twerks your package at 3am in a loud, hot nightclub? Or the story of Jesus as you're stuck in rush hour traffic on the way to work? Didn't think so, and Andy Mineo clearly doesn't either. Pushing 26,000 units in one week is phenomenal for an EP, let alone one that is unfairly labelled as a "Christian record", and when you consider those numbers are five times what long-established artists Alchemist and Evidence achieved with "Lord Steppington", this must be fire right?
If you find Rick Ross too obnoxious or can't bring yourself to play Lil Wayne in the car with children present (quite rightly!) then this is indeed that fire you crave. "Never Land" is devoid of profanity and ignorance, which admittedly doesn't ensure that Andy Mineo is a good rapper just because he means well (otherwise Eminem would be awful) - it doesn't hurt his appeal . Andy Mineo is certainly no Marshall Mathers, both technically and thematically, yet "Never Land" is a record that could reach an audience as wide as Em's. Every song on this 7-track EP is accessible without feeling diluted, minus the scratch-heavy, rapidly rapped "Paganini" (an Italian violinist as opposed to a variety of pasta, presumably it is him on the violin sample here).
Ignore the minute of Mineo impersonating a poor Adam Sandler character on "Paisano's Wylin'" and "Never Land" certainly starts showing why it's been performing so well sales-wise. There are still elements of tomfoolery that lend the album an incomplete feel, but a large portion of the thirty minutes in "Never Land" are fun, digestible helpings of pop rap. The influence of Kendrick Lamar runs throughout Mineo's rapping performances, most notably on the fist-pumping "You Can't Stop Me" which comes accompanied with a Zack De La Rocha impersonation on the hook. Andy Mineo lets his guests take care of the catchy bits, with Dimitri McDowell crooning on "All We Got" and Kam Parker's dominant performance on "Rewind" ensures R&B fans will enjoy this EP too. But Mineo leaves his deepest mark on the final song; "Death of Me", a track that sees Andy firing off bars aggressively, yet not unlike a certain Canadian emcee in the way he not only flows, sings and mimics Drake's style, but somehow makes cheesy puns in to convincing rap lyrics.
Morals aren't really raised in hip hop unless there's an aggressive, political agenda behind them - else you get labelled a "conscious rapper". But when rhymes as simple as "we own things that we don't need, to impress people that we don't know, we go broke trying to look rich, I can't do it I JUST WON'T!" put any dumbass statement about spending money in to perspective, it's hard not to raise a wry smile. Andy Mineo's message is every bit the common man's, just accompanied to a soundtrack most commonly associated with artists that revel in youthful excess or financial decadence. It may be too sensible for some, and lack a unique selling point (you could argue this is a PG version of Drake's work) but it's most certainly a welcome addition to any 2014 rap collection.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10