By now, many in the Christian Rap/Hip Hop genre have seen or heard about Reach artist Andy Mineo and his guest appearance on Fox 5 NY. Mineo stopped by to promote his latest album, Uncomfortable, and his tour by the same name.
Before performing a single from the album, Mineo chats with Fox 5 NY co-hosts Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto. In one of the more awkward exchanges I’ve seen on live television, Mineo is asked about a baseball cap he’s wearing. The cap reads, “1-1-Six.” In TV banter fashion, Rosanna Scotto comments on her co-host’s fancy of Mineo’s outfit. “Greg’s looking at your hoodie, your hat,” she says.
Andy Mineo replies, “Yeah…one, one six — that’s my …that’s my team.” Greg Kelly presses, “One,one six? What team is that?” Mineo, visibly uncomfortable, responds, “Uh, m-, uh, my team,” then breaks into boisterous, nervous laughter.
The entire exchange lasts only seconds, but after what seems like an eternity, Rosanna saves Mineo from the moment by declaring, “Maybe we should find out off camera.” “For sure,” says Andy. Greg Kelly rounds out the conversation asserting, “There’s a story there.”
He’s right. There is a story there, and for anyone who may be wondering, we call that “story” the Gospel. What Andy called his “team” is actually far from being a team, or clique, or brand. Romans 1:16, the passage of Scripture from which Reach has taken its phrase “unashamed,” refers to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the first chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes about his longing to visit Rome. He was grieved that the enemy had consistently impeded his visit. But now, after such longing, the Lord was allowing Paul to bring the Gospel to Rome. Paul, who rejoiced at the thought of producing fruit among the Romans, declared he was ready to preach the Gospel: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
Romans 1-1-Six used to translate as LeCrae, Mineo, and any other believer’s declaration that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So why might Mineo have had such a hard time answering a question that should be Reach training 101? I mean, they have literally and figuratively branded themselves “1-1-Six.”
Many speculations have been made since Andy Mineo’s Fox 5 NY interview, with some suggesting that maybe he was instructed to not be preachy, and others supposing there wasn’t enough time for him to tell about his cap. We do know that it’s hard for Mineo to unpack what he believes on weighty issues in a three-minute song, so certainly 15 seconds to present the meaning of 1-1-Six would be a challenge.
But I’ll just remind you that Andy Mineo showed no hesitation when discussing the success of Uncomfortable. With relative ease, he rattled off, “It’s the number-one independent album in the country and number eight on Billboard top 200.” No stuttering, no wrestling with whether to appear humble or state facts.
I actually think the reason Mineo had such difficulty presenting the meaning behind 1-1-Six is because for Reach, the meaning of “unashamed” has changed.
I know, I know — you think I’m hating and grasping at straws. But I can assure you there is no need for grasping. If you go to Reach Records’ website and read what they are about, you might be shocked to learn what “unashamed” actually means to them, as their “about” page reads in part, “With literal trunk of the car distribution to start, word spread fast across the country about a group of artists unashamed to be themselves and remain true to their convictions. With a fanatical dedication to artistic excellence, things began to take off.”
Really? Is that how it happened? Didn’t it have anything to do with the untold number of churches who opened their doors so Reach could minister to their youth groups? Did word not spread because of all of the Christian concert tours? Maybe word spread because Christians who loved rap had finally found a home among brothers who were unashamed of the Gospel, not self.
People want us to just move on. They want us to forget that Reach once stood openly and unapologetically for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They want us to forget Reach’s former “about” page, which clearly stated, “Our hope lies in the person and work of Jesus. If this man was a mere teacher, our work would be influenced by him. Yet he claims to be God and change the hearts of humanity. That is the message we bring.” Check out what “unashamed” used to mean.
“Unashamed” has never had its roots in the exaltation of self. To be unashamed has always been about Christ and His message. Are we now suddenly supposed to celebrate and excuse those who cannot bear the reproach of the Gospel, so much so that they have made cowardice trendy and repurposed the Word? Certainly not! Nowhere in the New Testament Church will you find any such celebration. The same Paul who penned the book of Romans would have condemned this type of behavior, and he would have done so publicly.
Bottom line: Merchandising is such a big thing for Reach that they have a separate website dedicated to the exploitation of a Bible passage they have effectively detached from its original meaning. Ironically, while on stage fumbling over what 1-1-Six means, Andy Mineo was joined by an auto-tune guy and a drummer wearing “Grateful” and “Unashamed” t-shirts. What does any of that mean if it isn’t attached to the Gospel? Certainly it’s just branding and merchandising.
Listen, you may not get the Gospel in public places, where it’s most needed, but you can join the 1-1-Six Limited Official T-Shirt Club. It’ll only set you back $25 month. What a cool concept! You join a t-shirt club and get a new, exclusive t-shirt every month! Designs are based around the 1-1-Six logo, reimagined.
Unfortunately, what so many people don’t realize is the meaning of 1-1-Six has also been reimagined.
(This blog first appeared here at urbanfamilytalk.com)