Minor progresses with release of ‘Empire’

American Christian hip-hop artist Derek Minor’s fifth studio album “Empire” shows that Minor has finally hit his stride.

Minor’s previous album, “Minorville,” showed he was going in the right direction, but “Empire” takes what was good about “Minorville” and makes it better.

The album further expands on Minor’s storytelling from “Minorville,” but takes it a different direction and begs the listener to ask, “Are we building our empire for ourselves or building it for God?”

This is a different direction than what labelmates Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Tedashii and Trip Lee have done with their recent albums.

Minor hits home with Christians and talks about his struggles with the idea that we are creating our own empire without God’s help.

The album’s first single, “Who You Know,” which was released Nov. 14, questions believers’ authenticity while delivering a hard-hitting beat.

The second song, “Party People” featuring Social Club, released Dec. 9, is my favorite track of the album. This is not because it goes away from the overall theme of “Empire,” but because the beat is the best on the record. It is a fun song that reminds me of Social Club’s “Cops” from their album “Misfits 2.”

The album’s first track, “Intro,” sets the table for a solid record with orchestral sounds and clapping over a pounding beat.

The title track “Empire,” which features Traneisha Truth Charles, gives listeners a message about what we spend our time bragging about. The track’s instrumentals remind me of Kanye West’s “Power.” One of the record’s better tracks, “Kingdom Come,” retains the theme of how we put ourselves first when we should put God above us. It seems to push on the idea that we put too much stock into our possessions.

This is a standout track because of the message, but the beat sounds like it should be on a ‘90s rap album.

Another banger track is the album’s seventh song, “Slow Down,” featuring Tedashii and Tony Tillman.

This track has the best beat and is mixed with Minor, Tedashii and Tillman’s lyrics to make a great track.

“Empire” is not just about banger tracks, however.

The record features several slower songs such as “Last Forever,” “Babel 1,” “Babel 2” and others that rely more on the lyrical content than the beat. It’s not the songs’ verses, but the hooks that pique my interest.

“Last Forever” is almost a hybrid of slower and heavier-hitting songs, mixing the lyrics and beat well.

While this record isn’t going to be something I listen to continuously, this is a solid album.

“Empire” has 16 tracks and can be purchased at the Google Play Store for $11.49 and at iTunes for $10.99. It is also available on Spotify. Minor

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