Album Review: ‘Empire’

Christian rapper Derek Minor released his album “Empire” Jan. 27, and it’s the first album he’s released since taking over his own recording company last year.

Minor signed with Lecrae’s record label, Reach Records, in 2011, but left the label in 2014 to begin his own recording company, Reflection Music Group (RMG).

In his newest album, Minor raps over top-notch production lyrics about setting up a heavenly kingdom on earth.

The album’s first track “Intro” is haunting with its airy female chant and a reverberating bassline in the background. The track gets the listener anticipating deep, dark content for the remainder of the album.

The next two tracks, “All Hail the King” and the album title song “Empire,” both have Southern rap qualities, such as a heavy bassline and a snappy synth that have become a trend in Minor’s albums. These two songs are great to listen to while working out.

The fourth track is one of the album’s only snags. “Who You Know” was a single of the album, and the disorganized bassline combined with Minor’s overly repetitive pacing make this a very easy song to skip.

“Kingdom Come” is a track that is laid back with sounds of blues-influenced instrumentation as well as reggae. “Slow Down,” a track featuring label-mate Tony Tillman and Reach Records-affiliate Tedashii, is anything but slow. A heavy, punching bassline and excellent pacing by both featured artists combine very well.

Popular Christian artist Colton Dixon makes an appearance in the track “Fly,” where his vocal prowess is on full display. The final track of the album, “Until The End of Time,” is one of the album’s best. Lecrae and fellow RMG rapper Canon jump on the track, serving up amazing lyrics that mirror the intensity of the song’s deep bassline and blaring horn.

Minor’s sound and bass on this album really bang in a pair of headphones, but thats not the only thing that is thrown at the listener. His lyrics also pack a punch.

“Stranger” is a song that talks a great deal about the racial issues that are not only going on in society, but the church also. The lyrics, “Ah! Look at them thugs, how dangerous they are with gun in hand/Look at them ghetto girls twerking on that Instagram/Don’t bring them to our church ‘cause we don’t want that Riff Raff/What do you expect when most of us grew up wishing for dads?” are the most unapologetic, honest section of the entire song and possibly the whole album.

Themes of Christ’s redemption and how his kingdom ultimately will be supreme take center stage in the song “Empire.” Reminders of a Christian’s absolute redemption in the face of tremendous guilt crop up in “Fly” and “Until The End of Time.” Minor raps about how he is serving to further God’s empire: “Grindin’, workin’, hustlin’ on this mission, I will never quit/Every single track you put in front of me I’m killin’ it/Not for money, fame, attention, this is what I’m gettin at, Christ the King and this His empire, He don’t deserve no less than that.”

This album is definitely worth listening to. Minor keeps the album centered on God’s kingdom while talking about some significant issues in the process. The album sounds incredible, has great lyrics and is worth picking up a copy.

Conner Ghiz is a sophomore professional writing and information design major and arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. He loves listening to music and going to Roosters Wings.

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