Derek Minor (aka PRo) delivers an album that combines some sick beats as well as hard hitting truths. It is rare to hear music that makes the listener want to jam out to the track itself and ponder the deep meaning behind the lyrics at the same time. Empire has a bit of everything, and that makes the album absolutely amazing. Minorville was a good album, but this album is on a whole new level. New styles, some slow, some fast, but all praising God’s Empire.
The pre-release single, “Who You Know”, hinted that this album was going to be something different. The slower beat has me head bobbing to it every time. Definitely not a “Ready, Set, Go”, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The hook of this song just will not leave my head, and that is perfectly fine with me.
The best track on the album in my mind is no doubt “Slow Down” (feat. Tony Tillman & Tedashii). The name of the track can be deceiving, because Minor shows no intention of slowing down throughout this epic track. Tedashii’s section near the end compliments the deep tone of the refrain as well. This one for sure is being added to my playlist.
The first track after the intro, “All Hail the King” (feat. Deraj & Nobigdyl), has that epic quick rapping that Derek Minor does so well. It also features a good flow that really gets the album off to a good start.
“Kingdom Come” brings up the deeper meaning extensively. Are we building an Empire for ourselves or for God? The track features a story of a man living solely for himself. He claims that he has everything, but in the end he is hit by a car and killed.
A desperate cry out to God can be heard in “Save Me” (feat. J.Paul). This track features some great intensity that really pushes the desperation of the man praying for help. It shows how life is full of struggle and pain, but God wants us to give our lives to him even through hard times. The n ice flow between those intense rapping sequences and the smooth chorus makes for a nice sound on top of the deep meaning.
Now the biggest surprise came from “Fly” (feat. Colton Dixon). I started the song and couldn’t believe my ears, Derek Minor singing? Rappers singing tends to end badly fairly often, but this track is extremely impressive. Colton Dixon does an excellent job with the chorus that I can’t get out of my head. This is another deep song with a more mellow tone. Motivational is the word I’d use to describe this track.
Another track that really had me questioning if I was listening to Derek Minor still was “Oceans” (feat. Move Aside). Sit back, relax, and soak in the beats for this one. Minor’s parts take on a softer tone that fit in well with that beautiful chorus. The only problem in my eyes is that chorus is used a little too often to the point it becomes repetitive. Move Aside makes “Oceans” fit in perfectly after “Fly” with the more relaxed feel than some of the more hard hitting songs in the album.
By far the most fun track on the album is “Party People” (feat. Social Club). What else can you expect when the Social Club is involved? Minor’s failure at an ad lib at the start had me laughing already at the start of this track. If this song doesn’t make you want to get up and dance then nothing will. I’ve read some criticisms of this track for being completely “non-Christian”, but honestly I don’t buy those arguments. This song is just saying that Christians can have some fun too, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Reaching the last song on the album the bar got set pretty high when Lecrae, Canon, and Derek Minor are on the same track. “Until the End of Time” (feat. Lecrae & Canon) does not disappoint. Even that sweet hook doesn’t prepare the listener for the awesome rapping that finishes this album off well. Lecrae’s verse is underwhelming compared to Minor’s hard hitting style and Canon’s quickness, but the song is terrific overall. Canon’s verse at the end just makes me want more, and is a great finish to Empire.
Derek Minor has come a long way with his own label. Empire really did mix it up and did an amazing job doing so. The only downside to me was that Babel 1 and 2 just seemed like filler, as Minor didn’t even appear in them. Beyond that, the album provides a terrific mix of pace and beats. Definitely Derek Minor’s best album yet, and it will be exciting to see what surprises he’ll cook up next.
Empire is available for sale on iTunes and other digital retailers.