Added by on 2014-03-26

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You can call him Sicilian. You can call him a Christian. You can call him a rapper. Just don’t make the mistake of calling Andy Mineo a Christian rapper. You’ll be doing yourself and your ears a disservice.

Mineo is an emcee from Washington Heights, New York who’s part of  the rap collective, 116 Clique, lead by Lecrae.

While Lecrae won a Grammy for Best Gospel Album  2013, the “Christian” rap tag is something they’d like to shake.

“It minimizes what we do,” said Mineo on the gospel rap stigma.”At times, people want to label something that they don’t immediately understand.”

Mineo’s fan base understands. His solo 2013 project, Heroes For Sale, debuted at number 4 on Billboard rap album charts this past April. He attributes this to the actual truth that can be found in his rhymes. Mineo’s brand of hip-hop is grounded in reality. Growing up in the “The Heights” kept Minoe’s freestyling skills sharp, and his wordplay has been his calling card.

He was invited on to MTV’s Rapfix’s end of the year wrap to freestyle, and impressed veteran journalist Sway to the point that he brought Mineo back to his Sirius XM radio show.

“It was an honor to meet Sway. I grew up on him, so I was trying to play it cool,” Mineo jokingly recalled Sway cosigning his skills on the mic.

LGBT culture’s role in hip-hop has been ushered into the mainstream with the rise of Seattle rap-pop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and their pro gay rights anthem “Same Love.” Born Again Christian rapper Bizzle released a response track to “Same Love” defending his faith-based views on homosexuality and has since allegedly received death threats.

“It’s always to address any heavy subject matter in a 3-minute song. We all have different opinions and viewpoints but its not like a rap track is an open discussion, it’s one way,” said Mineo about homosexuality’s place in hip-hop.

Check out our sitdown with Andy Mineo and let us know what you think in the comments below.

For the latest music news, follow Kyle Harvey on Twitter at @HarveyWins